European Commission gets its claws out to ban Meow Meow

Europe’s night

life suffers from a huge drug problem

By Bridget Honan and Leonie Lohwasser
The popular “legal high” named Meow Meow and other psychoactive substances will be banned across Europe when European Commission Vice President Viviane Reding introduces a new proposal in 2013.

A common drug legislation for the EU

The Commissioner for Justice wants to introduce legislation to create a uniform ban across the EU.

So far, the responsibility to ban legal highs has been in the hands of the member states.

The legislation is a huge step for the Commission, who until now have had no legally binding measures against drug consumption.

Spokesperson for Viviane Reding Natasha Bertaud said, “there’s a mechanism in place to ban these drugs, but at the moment it works very slowly.”

“If there’s a new drug on the market, a member state has to flag the risk and alert the European commission and the EMCDAA will conduct a risk assessment.

Then they’ll submit the risk assessment to the committee, then the committee can make a proposal to the council, then the council can make a decision about whether or not they should ban the drug.”

“Then every single member state has to ratify that decision and make the ban themselves.”

Ms Bertaud says this process could take up to a year to ban one single drug.

The amount of drugs is rising

The EMCDDA–Europol 2011 annual report on psychoactive substances states that one new drug emerges every week within the EU.

Faye Watson, Secretary General for Europe Against Drugs says the problem with legal highs is the perception that they’re safe.

The NGO’s are sceptical

“Do people think they’re safe because they’re legal?That’s one of the biggest challenges with these substances is overcoming the idea that they’re legal, but just because there hasn’t been legislation yet on some substances does not mean that they’re safe to consume.”

However, Ms Watson believes you should not rely on the EU to look after the member states.

It will be interesting to see what they can do and what they feel is within their competency to do.”

Joep Oomen, from European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policy is sceptical about how the EU could ban legal highs, when the member states struggle to do it themselves.

“The new legislation will not work. It cannot work with illegal highs, how can it work with legal highs? It’s a symbolic policy.”

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