BKN worried new types of drugs may enter Brunei

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The Narcotics Control Bureau (BKN) is concerned over new types of drugs called psychoactive substances (NPS) which have made their way to Southeast Asia.

Osmawi Osman, assistant director of the Preventive Drug Education Division under the BKN, told The Brunei Times recently that there are many of types of drugs globally, and the chances of them entering the country are indisputable.

“BKN is holding ongoing meetings with other foreign agencies to share updates about drugs.

“During the meetings, we share information about the drug situation in our respective countries. Some countries have mentioned new types of drugs, namely new psychoactive substances, which have become a problem for them,” he said

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), several NPS were first synthesized 40 years ago, but the term “new” refers to substances that have recently become available on the market.

It said NPS have been known in the market by terms such as “legal highs”, “herbal highs”, “bath salts” and “research chemicals”.

“NPS has become a global phenomenon, and all regions of the world have been affected by it. In a questionnaire that was distributed to governments and drug analysis laboratories, respondents from 70 (out of 80) countries and territories reported the emergence of NPS,” it said.

Meanwhile, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) said on its website that the short-term harms of NPS can include paranoia, psychosis and seizures.

Osmawi said the public must watch out for international drug syndicates when travelling abroad, as a lack of awareness about them may put them at greater risk for introducing new types of drugs from other countries.

“We are very concerned that drugs from other countries may come to the country,” he said.

He said Brunei hasn’t encountered any new drugs so far, with only four types identified: Methylamphetamine (Syabu), Marijuana (Ganja), Ketamine and Nimetazepam.

According to a press statement from BKN, the number of people caught with drugs rose to 639 last year from 610 in 2014.

The bureau is working hand in hand with other authorities in Brunei to curb drug abuse and had achieved positive results in terms of preventing people from becoming involved in international drug syndicates. Since 2010, no Bruneians have been recorded as victims of international drug trafficking syndicates.

“This achievement reflects BKN’s efforts through drug abuse prevention education in creating awareness among the public about the underhanded tactics of international drug syndicates.”

The Brunei Times