Popular designer drug 4-FA banned

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Popular designer drug 4-Fluoroamphetamine, also known as 4-FA and 4-FMP, will be banned in the Netherlands beginning Thursday. The party drug will be on the classified as "List I" under the country's drug laws, meaning it will be labeled as a hard drug.

Both the Trimbos institute and addiction facility Jellinek, organizations typically present at large Dutch festivals to assist drug users,  about the rising health incidents involving 4-FA. At the time, they cautioned the drug produced symptoms including headaches, heart problems and strokes. They previously voiced their criticism of 4-FA’s public image as ‘XTC-light’, arguing the drug is much less innocent than it is believed to be by many party goers.

This decision to ban the drug was made by the State Secretary for Public Health, Welfare and Sport, Martin van Rijn, and Klaas Dijkhoff, Secretary of Security and Justice. The drug had already been banned in Germany and the United Kingdom.

Multiple people have been admitted to the hospital after using the designer drug, the Volkskrant reported. In all cases the drug had been combined with other drugs or alcohol, or had been used in excess.

This is one main risk of 4-FA’s relatively milder effect – users run the risk of underestimating the impact of the drug, which is available for a few euros per pill or powder capsule. Last year more 4-FA pills were admitted to Dutch drug testing points than in all previous years combined. 

It is questionable whether the ban will actually have an effect on usage however. Despite being banned in 1988, ecstasy, or XTC, remains popular in Dutch nightlife. Ecstasy pills have also increased in strength in recent years with producers of the drug manufacturing them in secret.

Trimbos researcher Daan van der Gouwe previously told the Volkskrant that banning the drug would not be a solution in any case. “It won’t make any difference in terms of use. If you ban it, it will disappear into the underground scene. From the perspective of monitoring it might make sense to just keep an eye on it, without immediately banning it.”

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