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Sunday 21.01.2018 | Name days: Agne, Agnese, Agnija

Opinion: ‘spice’ unified deputies better than Putin did with his saber-rattling near borders

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU‘I have never seen such a high degree of unity among deputies since the ban on the sale of energy drinks for children, teenagers and pregnant women. “Spice” has managed to unify deputies and future deputies better than Putin did with his saber-rattling along Latvia’s borders,’ – said the President of Latvian Medical Association Peteris Apinis in his interview to BNN.

‘Saeima deputies and deputies of different city councils have all come forth with a call to “ban”. This request quietly turned into “certify” under care of a committee of the Saeima. It was then decided to put all responsibility on the Disease Control and Prevention Centre. Saeima’s work group failed to achieve anything in its attempts to combat “spice” trade‘.

What is shocking in this situation is that the press and other mass media sources, especially LTV and Latvjas Radio, responded in an incredibly rational manner. Unlike politicians, who merely know ‘spices’ are bad and must be combated, journalists of social television channels have performed in-depth research into production and distribution of these substances. However, journalists do not understand why politicians of the Saeima merely choose to imitate work – no proposals have been reviewed, no decision has been made. The criminalisation of spice trade is welcomed with open arms, but it is merely half of what needs to be done, says Apinis.

‘Similar to any other industry, the distribution of psychoactive substances requires knowledge of toxicology, narcology and aspects of social health. Alcohol and tobacco remain some of the most serious threats to social healthcare, they annually claim more lives than “spices”. The latter, on the other hand, is the kind of substance that can actually be banned in Latvia’s day-to-day. If only we had the will and ability to achieve this. Manufacturers of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products openly sell their products and are also able to finance different political powers. “Spice” traders, on the other hand, are unlikely to be financing any political party. Regardless, one question remains unanswered – why wouldn’t deputies listen to Interior and Healthcare ministries and specialists of the doctors association? Why do they continue to push their log on top of Populism Mountain?

Andrejs Elksnins of Harmony Centre is of special attention in this matter. He may propose a great many different proposals, the general point of which usually comes down to “ban everything that is not allowed”. If Healthcare and Interior ministries say “ban and punish”, the philosophy of Mr Elksnins revolves around the conclusion that specialized cactus fertilizer may actually be cactus fertilizer. This means laboratory tests have to be performed prior to making any decisions. This basically means that all those people who are caught with “spice” packets should be sent to Healthcare Ministry to find out the truth.

Andrejs Elksnins’ proposal is based on the permit of Health inspection on trade in substances: a substance can be sold if there is a permit and the substance in question is added to the register. Objection: permits for trade expansion cannot be issued for the sale of potential drugs or psychotropic substances. From this it can be concluded that there may be cases when permits can be issued. Furthermore, the Disease Control and Prevention Centre does not perform risk assessment of substances in regard to their possible side effects on human health,’ – explains the President of Latvian Association of Doctors.

According to him, ‘creation of such a register is inconceivable – what are they supposed to write there? Unknown substances cannot be added to it. After their identification, they become either banned or classified as uncontrollable. There is no middle ground.’

‘We have a lot of psychoactive substances and they are not banned. Coffee is a psychoactive substance and so is alcohol. We need to have in-depth discussions about psychoactive substances. Looking at the progress of the Saeima on this matter, it feels as though it would be easier to categorize all psychoactive substances under a single category, which is impossible.’

Latvia’s real problem is that substances that are fit to be added to the list of controlled substances and is a narcotic or psychoactive substance will be added there sooner or later. However, it needs to be closely monitored and put under control; all trade transport and storage of this substance must be rigorously controlled. It is important to keep in mind that substances with psychoactive or even narcotic effects can be both of synthetic and natural origin.

‘Why am I so worried about the growing consumption of “spice”? Consumption of these substances alone does not necessary lead to death. Usually such deaths are added to the list of road traffic accidents (smoked a bit, got in his car, hallucinations and crash). The biggest problem at the moment is that users of these new substances become chronic schizophrenia patients rather quickly. Prof. Gaida Krumina has discovered that “spice” users all have atrophied areas of the brain. This is proven by MRI research,’ – he adds.

According to him, even doctors do not know the whole story. The association of doctors plans to hold a conference. One of the invited guests will be a Toxicology Professor from Australia. Both Australia and New Zealand have been though this in the past.


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