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Tokyo govt to crack down on unregulated drugs
    #2232881 - 01/10/04 08:33 AM (14 years, 3 months ago)


Tokyo govt to crack down on unregulated drugs

Yomiuri Shimbun

The Tokyo metropolitan government will establish a committee of experts next fiscal year, which starts April 1, to tighten controls of potentially harmful drugs not subject to legal regulations, according to government officials.
The committee will release the names of any drugs that experts deem harmful to humans, even if they do not violate the Drugs, Cosmetics and Medical Instrument Law, and will ask stores to exercise restraint in selling such products, the officials said.
This will be the first time sales of unrestricted drugs have been subject to administrative control.
The government also is looking into the possibility of establishing ordinances to control sales of such drugs in the future, the officials said.
Unregulated drugs is the general term for products claiming to have effects similar to those of legally restricted drugs, such as hallucinations or somnolence.
However, unregulated drugs, such as health drinks, tablets and air fresheners, are regarded as legal.
The Tokyo government will establish a committee of about 10 experts in chemistry and other fields within its Public Health Bureau to examine whether the ingredients in unrestricted drugs on sale cause euphoria, hallucinations or somnolence.
The government will release the names of products that have effects similar to those of legally regulated narcotic and psychotropic agents, or ask retailers to restrict sales of such drugs, the officials said.
According to the bureau, Tokyo sex shops and grocery stores marketing imported goods sell unregulated drugs for anywhere between 1,000 yen and 10,000 yen.
The bureau has identified more than 100 stores that sell such drugs, which also can be purchased via the Internet.
The government purchases such drugs twice annually to examine them.
In the event product ingredients are found to have violated the drug law, the government will ask stores to suspend sales of and recall the product in question, on the ground they are selling medical products without permission. It also will post the product's name on its Web site.
However, the government cannot regulate products that do no contain illegal ingredients, even if they have similar effects to narcotic and psychotropic agents.
Even though some unregulated drugs contain many ingredients similar to substances and chemical structures banned by the Narcotics Control Law, they cannot be legally regulated as long as slight differences in chemical structures exist.
In June last year, the government determined that 12 of the 25 products it had purchased could constitute health hazards, but was unable to stop sales of those products for the time being.
Unregulated drugs have become popular among young people over the past couple of years.
Because of their powerful side effects, abuses of such drugs have caused health problems, sometimes leading to death.
In July 1998, a 19-year-old woman living in Tokyo died after eating several hallucinogenic mushrooms, or magic mushrooms, which were added to the list of products subject to regulation under the Narcotics Control Law in 2002.
In April 2001, a young actor went on a rampage in Tokyo while experiencing drug-induced hallucinations.
In December the same year, a 16-year-old boy threatened an old man with a knife while under the influence of unregulated drugs.
Public Health Bureau officials said the government could no longer permit the unchecked sale of unregulated drugs as they also have been used to commit crimes, such as to render people unconscious so that they can be robbed, and could lead to abuses of narcotics and stimulant drugs

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