Indonesia’s National Narcotics Board (BNN) together with the Health Ministry recently made a swift move to criminalize synthetic cannabinoids called “super tobacco”, also known as “Gorilla tobacco”, as part of their anti-narcotics efforts. However, synthetic cannabinoids will continue to spread as long as cannabis remains illegal. A better approach would be to develop a regulatory framework for the use and production of natural cannabis
Synthetic cannabinoids have gained popularity in Indonesia shortly after President Joko Widodo pledged to intensify the war on drugs in the archipelago. Since then, cannabis seizures and eradication programs have increased. Amid shrinking supply, many users have turned to online markets for synthetic cannabinoids, sold as tobacco products with psychoactive effects similar to cannabis.
On Jan. 9, “Gorilla tobacco” - chemically identified as AB-CHMINACA - was included in the strictest Schedule I of Indonesia’s 2009 anti-narcotics law, along with 27 other substances. By taking this approach, the BNN neglects the possible “balloon effect” of adding this new layer of prohibition. Criminalizing one type of synthetic cannabinoids (or synthetic drugs and NPS in general) will simply encourage producers to adapt and find new or modified substances; allowing other (and possibly more dangerous) varieties to emerge.
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Thumbnail: Flickr CC Adria vidal