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Japan acts swiftly to ban loophole drugs used in driving spree

Kyodo

In the face of a series of accidents caused by drivers high on law-skirting “dappo” drugs, the health ministry used new emergency powers Tuesday to ban two substances.

The substances are believed to have been used by a man who allegedly killed one pedestrian and injured seven while driving under the influence of the drugs in the Ikebukuro district of Tokyo on June 24.

Keiji Nagura, 37, reportedly told police he “inhaled dappo herbs.”

The police said the “herbs” he smoked included two substances that have the same effect as cannabis.

Also Tuesday, police in Nagoya arrested Takehiko Nishikawa, a 49-year-old company executive, on suspicion of driving in January under the influence of dappo drugs.

The substances he allegedly used were recently added to the list of banned chemicals, police said.

The health ministry generally spends some six months designating substances that likely have stimulant or hallucinatory effects and that are considered harmful. Substances labeled as such cannot be sold or possessed.

Following the Ikebukuro accident, however, the ministry decided to resort to an emergency measure to designate the two substances as harmful without undergoing the usual procedure of checking their toxicity and listening to the views of experts.

It is the first time that the ministry has used the emergency process to address loophole drugs, which are not technically illegal but which induce effects similar to illegal narcotics.

It only took about three weeks for the designation of the drugs in question and the change will take effect July 25.

  • lasolitaria

    I bet people driving under the influence of alcohol has caused more of such accidents. Why isn’t it been banned?

    • itoshima2012

      drinking is “banned” in Japan if you drive, zero tolerance if you get caught. Alcohol is surely bad for you but comparing it to bathsalts is not even close. Bath Salts are made of mostly “unknown” chemical compounds which have devastating effects on the people smoking them and on the people living with the users. Bath Salts, look at the US experience, are a terrible menace and Japan should try all it can to keep them at bay.

      • lasolitaria

        Of course it’s banned for driving -but you still see accidents where alcohol is involved so in the real world the ban is not a full guarantee of no accidents. I’m talking about the legal world: both substances cause accidents, yet one is completely banned from consumption and the other is not.

      • itoshima2012

        well yes, in the real world you’ll always have problems. My point is that yes alcohol is a terrible drug (but I love my glass of wine…..) but bath salts are really just out there to cause mayhem. It is a very dangerous drug and I do think that especially due to its cheapness it must be fought right from the beginning. May I suggest again that you look at the US experience with this drug. It is terrible, The problem with alcohol is that it has been part of our lives since we learned “how to get hammered” so it will be impossible to eradicate it. You just can’t compare these two drugs, really, try to think about it. Smoking a couple of times bath salts will lead almost always to addiction but having a glass of wine from time to time or smoking a spliff will certainly not….