Risk assessment of new psychoactive substances
The risk assessment has regard to the health and social risks of the use of, manufacture of, and traffic in the new psychoactive substance, the involvement of organised crime and the possible consequences of control measures.
The concept of risk should be understood in its dual sense, which includes both the element of probability that some harm may occur (usually defined as ‘risk’) and the degree of seriousness of such a harm (usually defined as ‘hazard’). If possible, both elements should be evaluated in the final phase of the risk-assessment process.
According to Article 6.3 of the Council Decision, a risk assessment should take into account all factors which, according to the 1961 UN Convention or the 1971 UN Convention, would warrant placing a substance under international control. The factors that would warrant such action are described in Articles 3.3. (iii) and 3.5 of the 1961 UN Convention and Article 2.4 of the 1971 UN Convention.
Based on the provisions in the UN conventions, the following need to be taken into account:
1. Whether a new psychoactive substance is liable to similar abuse (10) and produces similar ill effects as the drugs in Schedule I or Schedule II of the 1961 UN Convention;
2. Whether a new psychoactive substance is convertible into a drug as meant under point 1;
3. Whether a new psychoactive substance is particularly liable to abuse and to produce ill effects and that such liability is not offset by substantial therapeutic advantages, which would qualify it for placement under Schedule IV of the 1961 UN Convention;
4. Whether the new psychoactive substance has the capacity to produce a state of dependence (11) and central nervous system stimulation or depression, resulting in hallucinations or disturbances in motor function or thinking or behaviour or perception or mood;
5. Whether the new psychoactive substance is liable to similar abuse and similar ill effects as a substance listed in Schedules I, II, III or IV of the 1971 UN Convention;
6. If there is sufficient evidence that the substance is being or is likely to be abused so as to constitute a public health and social threat warranting placing the substance under international control.
According to Article 6.1 of the Council Decision, besides the above factors derived from the UN conventions, other aspects also need to be assessed. These are:
7. The involvement of organised crime; and
8. The possible consequences of control measures.
Furthermore, according to Article 6.4 (g) of the Council Decision:
9. Options for control and the possible consequences of control measures need to be reported.
Source: EMCDDA Risk assessment of new psychoactive substances — operating guidelines, 2010