New drugs added to the 'illegal' list

23 December 2009

Some anabolic steroids, growth promoters and herbal cannabis are now illegal in Northern Ireland, the Government has announced.
A number of new drugs have been classified by the Home Office under Schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

The changes - recommended by the Advisory Council on Drug Misuse - have been welcomed by the Chair of the Organised Crime Task Force Paul Goggins and the PSNI.

Paul Goggins said: "These changes affect the whole of the UK and everyone in Northern Ireland should be aware that these drugs are now illegal, and if caught with these substances the Courts could decide to impose a custodial sentence".

One of the drugs now listed is (Benzylpiperazine) BZP which Detective Inspector Andy Dunlop of the PSNI's Organised Crime Branch said is replacing ecstasy.

He said: "This year more than three quarters of a million BZP tablets were seized by police. It is regularly sold as ecstasy and from now on the selling or possessing this drugwill be a criminal offence which could lead to a jail sentence".

From December 23, the new drugs that will be controlled under Schedule 2 of the 1971 Act include:

  • gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) and 1,4-butanediol (1,4-BD) - Class C
  • 1-benzlpiperazinw (BZP) and a group of substituted piperazines - Class C
  • 15 anabolic steroids and 2 non-steroidal agents (growth promoters) - Class C
  • Synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists - Class B; and
  • Oripavine - Class C

Notes to Editors:

The Misuse of Drugs Act

The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 controls drugs that are 'dangerous or otherwise harmful' and Schedule 2 of the Act specifies these drugs into 3 categories - known as Classes A, B or C.

This three tier system of classification provides a framework within which criminal penalties are set with reference to the harm a drug has, or is capable of having, when misused and the type of illegal activity undertaken in regard to that drug.

More information on the new legislation can be found on the Home Office website at


Benzlypiperazine is marketed under various names depending on the country. They include BZP , Pep, Pep Love, Pep Twisted, Pep Stoned, A2, Legal E/Legal X Frenzy, Nemesis, ESP, Cosmic Kelly, Charlie, The Good Stuff, Exodus, Frenzy, Rapture, Charge, Blast and Euphoria. BZP pills can come in many shapes or forms. The pills are sometimes encountered as a red, blue, pink, white, off-white, purple, orange, tan and mottled orange-brown pills. These tablets can bear imprints such as a housefly, crown, heart, butterfly, smiley face or bull's head logo, and are often sold as 'ecstasy'. BZP has also been found in powder or liquid form packaged in small convenient size sold on the internet.

Gamma-Butyrolactone (GBL)

Gamma-Butyrolactone (GBL) and its like chemical1,4-Butanediol (1,4-BD) are converted into GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) in the body which has been cited in cases of date rape. GBL is a colourless, oily liquid, with a weak odour. Both substances can reduce inhibitions, cause nausea, reduced heart rate and even death. Both are particularly dangerous when taken with alcohol and other depressant substances. GHB has been a Class C drug since 2003 and this brings these others drugs into line.

Anabolic steroids and growth promoters

Control of these substances is intended to update the list of substances in this category which are currently controlled. When misused, steroids have a range of physical and psychological harms. The original list of 50 steroids and 5 growth hormones were identified by the Olympic Commission Prohibited List in 1966 and included in the original MDA 1971 Act. This update will ensure that the list of banned substances is up to date for the 2012 London Olympics. These will be a Class C drug.

Synthetic cannabinoids

Synthetic cannabinoids are man-made chemicals that mimic the psychoactive effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in cannabis. They can be sprayed on herbal smoking products such as 'Spice' which act on the body in a similar way to cannabis but can be far more potent. They will be controlled as a Class B drug alongside cannabis.


Although there is currently no evidence of misuse in the UK, in accordance with the UK's obligations under the UN Conventions, the precursor Oripavine will be controlled as a Class C drug. Oripavine is an alkaloid found in poppy straw (Class A substance) of the opium poppy. This substance is used in the commercial sector.