20 December 2013
The dangerous psychoactive substance ethylphenidate, which has the street name 'magic crystals', has been made illegal in Jersey.
Anyone who is in possession of the drug, which until now has been described as a legal high, has a one-week amnesty to hand their supplies in to the pharmacy at Jersey General Hospital.
Distress and hallucinations
A number of users have tested positive for the drug over the past two months, while others have attended the General Hospital's Emergency Department in a distressed state and suffering from hallucinations.
The Ministerial Order to make ethylphenidate a Class B controlled drug was signed by the Minister for Health and Social Services yesterday and becomes law today [Friday 20 December 2013].
Severe side effects
Michael Gafoor, Director of the Drug and Alcohol Service, said ethylphenidate was structurally similar to amphetamines (Class B) but that the effects were far more potent, with an intense high being followed by side effects including agitation, lethargy, low mood, confusion, and irrational / aggressive behaviour.
“The Misuse of Drugs Advisory Council has been considering the issue of these dangerous psychoactive substances for several weeks, and more recently ethylphenidate in particular, with a view to changing the law,” he said. “The effects of ethylphenidate can be severe, and these symptoms are more pronounced if the drug is taken in conjunction with alcohol and other stimulants, as well as being dose-related – the greater the amounts taken, the more seriously ill users become.
“This type of substance has been described as a ‘legal high’ – a term we believe gives the misleading impression that these substances are safe. There is mounting evidence that ethylphenidate is not safe and, from today, it is not legal either.”
One-week amnesty for anyone in possession
With support from States of Jersey Police, there will be a one-week amnesty for those who are in possession of ethylphenidate, enabling them to hand over supplies for safe disposal without the risk of prosecution.
The pharmacy at Jersey General Hospital will be open to receive ethylphenidate for safe disposal, with no questions asked, at the following times:
- Friday 20 December: 9am - 5pm
- Saturday 21 December: 9am - 12.30pm
- Monday 23 and Tuesday 24 December: 9am - 5pm
- Thursday 26 December: 11am - 12.30pm
- Friday 27 December: 9am - 5pm
Police support for amnesty
Detective-Superintendent Stewart Gull said “We are supportive of this short-term amnesty, which will help reduce the risk of potential harm following from unsafe disposal. However we would also like to be very clear that if officers were to seize an amount that indicated dealing, then they would not hesitate to make arrests and instigate legal proceedings.
"There will also be no tolerance for possession beyond the closing point of the amnesty, which is 5pm on Friday 27 December.”
The Ministerial Order to amend the Misuse of Drugs (Jersey) Law 1978, which makes ethylphenidate illegal, follows major concerns about the drug expressed to the Misuse of Drugs Advisory Council by both the Jersey Alcohol and Drug Service and senior Public Health officials.