Over 330 people have been poisoned in the southern Polish region of Silesia after using designer drugs.
Most have used the drug sold on the Polish market as Mocarz (“the Mighty One”).
“The drug has been on the Polish market for some years, although it is only now that it has caused so much damage,” Artur Malczewski from the National Bureau for Drug Prevention told Radio Poland.
The reason behind the sudden spike in casualties is twofold, Malczewski explained. Firstly because of the introduction of a new law making many of these substances illegal in Poland, producers increased the dose in the products to get rid of inventory.
In order to avoid being caught by authorities selling such products following the law’s introduction on 1 July, shops also sold them for as little as PLN 4-5 (EUR 1-1.25), Malczewski said.
The drug authorities that have been investigating the composition of these designer drugs – which look like loose leaf green tea and can be smoked like marijuana – found they are laced with a synthetic cannabinoid that is up to 800-times stronger than marijuana.
Malczewski also said that "the hands of the police are tied" in terms of halting the sale of such products, as they are sold as “collector’s items”, and are clearly labelled as “not for human consumption". However, the expert stressed, “everyone knows what they are”.
From a legal standpoint, as soon as lawmakers introduce laws to curb a particular strain of synthetic chemicals, manufacturers come up with a slightly different formula which is not banned, and are therefore allowed to sell them.