In Augsburg, a city in Bavaria, Germany, officials announced the that the number of drug charges and deaths is expected to rise in 2017. According to Gerlinde Mair, Head of Drug Assistance, 27 people died in Augsburg in 2016. She said that she believes the increase in drug-related cases came from an influx of “new drugs, bath salts, and herbal mixtures.”
Lately, she explained, officials operated with their hands tied behind their back. Drug manufacturers continually bypassed drug laws by changing the molecular structure of the drug, rendering the police useless. Such actions caused an increase in “easily produced synthetic drugs,” she said. Gerhard Zintl, head of the Augsburger Criminal Police (Kriminalpolizei) stated the police “have always followed drug developments.” He explained another reason for the major increase in 2016 was the accessibility of them. They were available at low prices online and mailed to the recipient, he added.
Sometimes, he explained, the police confiscated “bath salts” that were not illegal. If the concoction contained nothing on the narcotics list or previously banned substances, the police returned the “bath salts” to the original recipient of the package.
Zintl said that a new federal law, as of the end of November, changed the police’s ability to crack-down on the analogs. In addition to the Act on Narcotic Drugs, the new law bans entire substance groups—not specific chemical compounds. The United States incorporated something similar in 1986 called, in short, the Federal Analogue Act. According to Wikipedia:
The Federal Analogue Act is a section of the United States Controlled Substances Act passed in 1986 which allowed any chemical “substantially similar” to a controlled substance listed in Schedule I or II to be treated as if it were also listed in those schedules, but only if intended for human consumption. These similar substances are often called designer drugs.
Making the decision on whether or not a powder mirrors that of a similar controlled substance is not easy, Zintl said. “We will rely on the sense of the investigators. Moreover, of course, we will send many samples to the National Criminal Police Office for analysis,” he added.
The prevention of drug trade began the transition to the darknet, the official explained. Even though darknet-trade requires internet investigators, he believes the new federal law gives law enforcement the upper hand. He said that he remains somewhat unsure of how the law will change the drug dynamic in the region. The police ignore small quantities “but what you can say right now: the law sends out a signal that these drugs are dangerous,” he added.
He concluded with a warning. The scariest aspect of this new synthetic drug trade, he said, is the uncertainness of everything. Nobody knows what he or she are indeed ingesting. “Even if an explanatory leaflet is included in the package, the actual drugs often differ,” he warned. “You think you drink a bottle of beer, and then you realize afterward that it was a bottle of vodka.”