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Karl Lauterbach's farcical Ministry of Health, in attempt to outlaw LSD derivatives, misplaces a dash, accidentally makes them and other heretofore forbidden substances explicitly legal
Since 2016, Germany has depended upon the Novel Psychoactive Substances Act (Neue-psychoaktive-Stoffe-Gesetz) to ban closely related chemical analogues of illegal drugs. The law must be updated constantly, as inventive chemists are always developing new analogues of forbidden substances that have yet to be explicitly outlawed, but that the Ministry of Health really, really doesn’t want you to enjoy.
To win this minor and pointless arms race, the law no longer lists specific forbidden chemicals, but takes aim at entire groups of substances sharing related molecular structures. Vast sections of the law are therefore highly technical and require a substantial knowledge of chemistry to interpret. The latest revision, a product of the Lauterbach era dating from October 2022, turns out to contain a key error of punctuation, which not only fails to forbid a wide variety of LSD analogues currently in a legal grey zone, but makes them and other long-forbidden LSD analogues explicitly legal:
The crimonologist Dr. Sebastian Sobota of the University of Heidelberg, the chemist Dr. Annika Klose, and the materials scientist Dr. Lukas Mirko Reinold have discovered that the law contains a serious mistake: Instead of extending the ban as intended, the law amounts to a mistaken “re-legalisation” and “general amnesty” for a variety of psychoactive substances had been made by mistake. …
Among [the legalised analogues] is the dangerous LSD variant 1V-LSD, which until the law took effect was freely available in web shops and shops… In September, the Federal Commissioner for Addiction and Drugs, Burkhard Blienert (SPD), explicitly warned against 1V-LSD. There are “incalculable health risks” when taking the derivative. Its unexplored formula could even lead to stronger effects than the consumption of LSD itself.
This is what happens when you add a dash instead of a comma to labyrinthine prohibitions that none of the responsible legislators or cabinet ministers actually understands.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health has told a gleeful Bild that their “punctuation error … has no bearing on the legal situation,” but this seems to be the kind of bullshit that spokespersons say which is not actually true:
Experienced narcotics law experts … can only shake their heads at this mishap. Konstantin Grubwinkler, for example, a specialist lawyer for criminal law from Freilassing … describes the consequences of the mistake as “enormous”: “The mentioned substances have been legalised by the amendment and fall outside the Novel Psychoactive Substances Act. This means that no current trials under the law can lead to conviction …”
Nor is it a simple matter to correct the errant dash. Any changes will require the approval of the German Bundesrat, which will take some time to secure.
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