New regulations drafted by the Ministry of Justice would, if approved by the Executive Yuan, restrict an additional 299 psychoactive substances, bringing the number of regulated substances in the nation to a record high of 638, an amount surpassed only by Japan, the ministry said on Wednesday.
The new restrictions would increase law enforcement capabilities against drug smuggling, the ministry said.
Unrestricted substances seized by authorities are assessed on a case-by-case basis, but as more psychoactive substances are being traded — the UN estimates that about 1,000 of the substances are on the global market — authorities cannot keep up with the development, the ministry said.
Of the about 1,000 substances listed by the UN, only 339 are thus far regulated in Taiwan, it added.
The draft regulations define psychoactive substances as “substances that that harbor the potential of being abused, addictive and harmful to society,” and would replace earlier regulations that define the substances as those “that can be abused, addictive and harmful to society,” the ministry said.
The new definition would cover an additional 337 substances listed by the UN, it added.
Upon further review and referencing regulations in other countries, the ministry placed 299 of the additional substances in drug categories 2, 3 and 4, it said.
The ministry’s Drug Review Committee cited fentanyl as an example, saying that while it is regulated as a category 2 drug, fentanyl derivatives are not regulated.
Fentanyl derivatives are linked to the overdose deaths of more than 10,000 people annually in the Americas and Europe, the committee said, adding that authorities must be given stronger instruments to prevent the substances from entering Taiwan.
The ministry said that it would soon make public additional details of the new draft regulations.
After that, it would forward the draft to the Executive Yuan for review, the ministry said, adding that it expects the review process to take about two months.
Should the measure be approved, Taiwan would become second only to Japan in the number of substances under regulation, the ministry said.
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