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Ministry to hire private detectives to investigate sales of 'law-evading' drugs August 28, 2005 - japantoday.com
TOKYO - The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry plans to hire private detectives to investigate the sale of chemical substances with narcotic or hallucinatory effects that authorities believe are abused particularly by young people, officials said Saturday.
These drugs are not designated as banned narcotics by the central government but the ministry has issued an opinion that they may violate the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law for their potential impact on human health.
The ministry's research conducted last year found these substances - which users consider legal but authorities consider "law-evading" - are sold at adult goods and imported goods shops nationwide as well as over the Internet.
But the ministry has not checked details such as the brands they are sold under as well as how they enter the market, the officials said.
Information on them has so far been gathered by local government officials who pose as customers at outlets but since their numbers are limited, often they are recognized by shop clerks, they said.
Clerks also get suspicious when these government workers ask for receipts for their purchases, hence the need for private investigators, according to the officials.
The ministry will seek a budget of around 107 million yen for fiscal 2006 for hiring the detectives as well as other efforts to discourage the use of the substances, the officials said.
The Tokyo metropolitan government has banned the production, sale and gifting of three of these drugs since June. The three are commonly known as 2C-I and 5-MeO-MIPT, which are psychedelics, and MBDB, a stimulant that is similar to ecstasy. Violators may face up to one year in prison or a maximum fine of 500,000 yen.