Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
June 25, 2013


In recent years, new psychoactive substances (NPS) have – at rapid speed - changed the nature of the global drugs market. Substances that are not under international control but mimic the effects of controlled substances are now widely available.

They also have the potential to pose serious risks to public health and safety. Despite often being marketed as legal alternatives to controlled substances, users can have no certainty of the health risks that will arise from using them, nor the legal status of these substances.

The internet has created a global marketplace, making access to, and the distribution of, NPS easier for people of all ages. There is also the potential for organised criminals to exploit the market for these substances.

The speed at which the market has developed, the wide availability and accessibility of NPS and the concern about the increasing use of them makes this a significant issue – and one that is international in nature, requiring collective global action.

There is no standard national or international approach to NPS. Many countries have adopted broader legislative approaches for controlling NPS through the use of analogue and generic terms, temporary and emergency procedures and alternative non-drug specific legislation as well, such as consumer protection legislation.

We believe that a balanced, comprehensive and integrated approach is required to tackle the challenges posed by NPS. We are committed to strengthening our international partnerships with a view to developing our understanding of NPS and implementing evidence-based approaches to tackle them. We, therefore, acknowledge our shared responsibility to work together in developing a better understanding of this issue, and are committed to reducing the production, manufacture, distribution and demand for NPS.

We are already making progress:

  • A large number of new psychoactive substances have already been identified.
  • The Global Synthetics Monitoring: Analysis, Reporting and Trends programme of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has helped improve our understanding of the synthetic drug problem through its monitoring of the production, use and trafficking of synthetic drugs, including emerging synthetic substances.
  • The European Union, through the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, has developed effective processes for identifying, monitoring and reporting on new psychoactive substances

We recognise however, that we need to do more in order to protect the public from the risks posed by NPS, and we must continue to work together across boundaries and borders.

We acknowledge the report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime of March 2013 entitled "The challenge of new psychoactive substances" and the resolutions of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, in particular resolution 55/1 and resolution 56/2 on enhancing international cooperation in the identification and reporting of new psychoactive substances, adopted at the 56th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in March 2013.

We recognise that the forthcoming review of the Declaration and Plan of Action at the 2014 high-level session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs in 2016 present opportunities to consider the international response to NPS. Additional opportunities to share information and discuss the issue may also arise at the 57th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in the context of discussions on the international scheduling process.

As such, following the G8 Roma-Lyon expert group in London on 16 April 2013, we, the representatives of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, the Russian Federation, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States, give , where appropriate, our commitment to:

  • Developing comprehensive, coordinated and integrated approaches to the detection, analysis and identification of new psychoactive substances as part of our balanced approach to drug policy that tackles both reducing demand and restricting supply;
  • Collecting and sharing information on the risks to individual and public health and public posed by new psychoactive substances , using, where appropriate, existing national and regional data collection and information exchange systems;
  • Collecting and sharing information on pharmacological data and research relating to new psychoactive substances;
  • Sharing information on the prevalence of new psychoactive substances as a basis for evidence-based measures;
  • Sharing information on the aforementioned aspects with one another and through, inter alia, the UNODC’s Global Synthetics Monitoring: Analysis, Reporting and Trends (SMART) programme and its International Collaborative Exercises (ICE) Portal, using, where appropriate, existing national and regional early warning systems and networks;
  • Sharing, where appropriate, good practice on demand reduction and treatment measures, including exchanging knowledge on the profile of users, patterns of use and settings, in order to better target prevention strategies;
  • Collaborating on the development of tailored prevention strategies that provide up to date information on potential adverse impacts and risks to public health and safety of new psychoactive substances associated with the consumption of new psychoactive substances, so as to counter public perception that new psychoactive substances are safe and may be legal;
  • Exchanging ideas, efforts, best practices and experiences in adopting effective responses to address the unique challenges posed by new psychoactive substances, which may include, among others, national and regional responses, new legislation, regulation or other restrictions, and demand reduction strategies;
  • Also utilizing the links between local, regional, national and international early warning systems, ensuring a good flow of information in both directions.
  • Utilizing the knowledge and information collected though international organisations such as the UNODC, the International Narcotics Control Board and the World Health Organization;
  • Working together, through such programmes as the UNODC SMART programme, to provide for an international repository of information on new psychoactive substances.