Early Warning Systems

Emergence of New Drugs and Early Warning Systems

While marijuana, alcohol and crack cocaine remain dominant, the drug situation is diversifying with the appearance of substances such as crystal meth, amphetamines and ecstasy. These drugs are highly addictive, with potentially dangerous side effects; and therefore, these changes must be closely monitored to ensure timely and adequate responses.

The emergence of new drugs also creates opportunities for new ways of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS). NPS are drugs that are not controlled by the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs or the 1971 United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances, but which may pose a public health threat comparable to that posed by substances listed in these conventions.

NPS include range drugs that may mimic illegal drugs,  New’ to the market or newly misused, and are not controlled by local legislation. The risks associated with the use of new psychoactive drugs may require new, faster and effective ways of drug control that will protect public health and, if possible, deter potential criminal networks.

Early Warning System in Barbados

In 2019 the NCSA established the Early Warning System to detect, test and distribute information on New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) promptly. A Technical Oversight Committee will oversee the reporting, testing and dissemination of information about an NPS. The TOC uses a standard format to report a suspected NPS based on drugs seized or found. Members of the TOC are drawn primarily from agencies preventing drug use and those that curtail the supply of drugs. 

A vital member of the TOC is the Forensics Science Centre (FSC). The FSC confirms the identification of narcotics found or seized, provides information on their chemical names, street names and concentration. The FSC also disseminates information on the type of psychoactive substance present and the presence of other substances.

The TOC officers include a Chairman and a Deputy Chairman. To date, the NCSA has made strides to implement an EWS including the hosting of a meeting of representatives of Demand and Supply and Control sectors the establishment of the   Technical Oversight Committee (TOC).