5 Legal Highs banned by Nick Boley
April 9, 2015, 08:42
Filed under: Drugs, Forensics, UK Legislation | Tags: ,

The Government have moved to introduce a ban on five further so-called Legal Highs from 10 April 2015. This has been done by means of a Temporary Class Drug Order (TCDO), following recommendations from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). The ACMD were concerned about the psychoactive nature of the substances.

The 5 drugs which are covered by this ban are:

  • 3,4-Dichloromethylphenidate (3,4-DCMP);
  • Ethylphenidate;
  • Isopropylphenidate (IPP or IPPD);
  • Methylnaphthidate (HDMP-28);
  • Propylphenidate;
  • Any stereoisomeric form of any of these substances and any preparation or other product containing any of these substances.

Forensic laboratories will need robust, validated analytical methods to identify and measure these substances, and will need to extend their scope of ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation to take account of this.


New Class A Drugs listed under Misuse of Drugs Act by Nick Boley
February 24, 2015, 09:11
Filed under: Drugs, Forensics, UK Legislation | Tags: ,

Two new substances have been listed as Class A drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (Amendment) Order 2015 (SI 215) brings under the permanent control of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 a potent opioid known as MT-45 and a synthetic stimulant known as 4,4’-DMAR as Class A drugs under the Act. This legislation is enacted in Northern Ireland by The Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015 (SR 53).

MT-45 has the systematic IUPAC name of 1-Cyclohexyl-4-(1,2-diphenylethyl)piperazine, and almost all its opioid activity resides in the (S) enantiomer. It is associated with hearing loss and unconsciousness.

MT-45 svg.svg   Structure of MT-45

4,4’-DMAR, or 4,4′-Dimethylaminorex, has the systematic IUPAC name of 4,5-Dihydro-4-methyl-5-(4-methylphenyl)-2-oxazolamine.

44dimethylaminorex structure.png  Structure of 4,4’-DMAR

This so-called “designer drug” is believed to have been responsible for many deaths in the EU over the last few years.

Analytical methods to detect and quantify these two substances must be added to the toolkit of the forensic science laboratories in the UK to properly enforce his new regulation. A reference material of 4,4’-DMAR is available from LGC Standards to help the forensic scientist in this regard. No reference material for MT-45 appears to be available as yet.

CLP Regulation update published in UK by Nick Boley
January 20, 2015, 08:48
Filed under: chemicals, REACH/CLP, transport, UK Legislation | Tags: , , ,

An amendment to the existing UK legislation covering the Classification, Labelling and Packaging of chemicals has been published. The Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Chemicals (Amendments to Secondary Legislation) Regulations 2015 (SI 21) has a wide-reaching effect.

This new SI fully implements Regulation EC 1272/2008 (the CLP Regulation), and takes into account the number of other Directives which are affected by CLP legislation in the EU. They also amend the provisions as they apply to merchant shipping, and apply UK-wide. They also amend the UK REACH legislation (S.I. 2008/2852; amended by S.I. 2009/238 (Northern Ireland) and S.I. 2009/716), adding a new sub-paragraph (1ka)  in Part 1 of Schedule 3 to give the definition of a hazardous substance or mixture in line with CLP regulations.

The Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply) Regulations 2009 (known as CHIP), which implemented Directives 67/548/EEC and 1999/45/EC, are revoked by Regulation 36 of the Biocidal Products and Chemicals (Appointment of Authorities and Enforcement) Regulations 2013, as a result of this legislation.

This comes into effect on 31 May and 1 June 2015.

New UK Legislation on Marine and Motor Fuel Composition by Nick Boley
November 25, 2014, 11:57
Filed under: Fuels, UK Legislation | Tags: , ,

New legislation has been published in the United Kingdom regarding the quality and composition of marine and motor fuels.

The Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships) and Motor Fuel (Composition and Content) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (SI 3076/2014) implements EU Directive 33/2012 which specifies the maximum sulfur content of marine fuel oils, and also specifies the methods to be used to measure the sulfur levels in both marine and motor fuels.

Marine fuel oil containing 0.10 % by mass sulfur can not be placed on the market after 31 December 2014. Vessels at berth in UK ports can not fill their tanks with fuel with a greater sulfur content. For ships outside a sulfur oxide emission control area, the maximum sulfur content allowable in marine fuel is 3.50 % by mass until 31 December 2019, when it reduces to 0.5 %.

The reference measurement method for determining the sulfur content of both marine and motor fuels is now either ISO method 8754 (2003) or BS EN 14596. These methods employ the X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) technique which is sufficiently sensitive to be able to accurately measure sulfur concentrations at these lower levels. ISO 8754 (2003) uses energy-dispersive XRF (EDXRF) and BS EN 14596 uses wavelength dispersive XRF (WDXRF).


UK Government to introduce limits for drugs in blood in England and Wales for drivers by Nick Boley

The UK Government has introduced legislation (SI 2868/2014) to establish drug-driving limits for 16 controlled drugs in blood in England and Wales.

The drugs covered by this legislation, which comes into force on 2 March 2015, includes both illicit drugs and prescription drugs. The list also includes benzoylecgonine (BZE) which is a metabolite indicative of cocaine use.

The full list, together with the limits in blood (in µg/L) is as follows:

Controlled drug                                              Limit
Benzoylecgonine                                              50
Clonazepam                                                       50
Cocaine                                                                10
Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol                     2
Diazepam                                                          550
Flunitrazepam                                                 300
Ketamine                                                            20
Lorazepam                                                       100
Lysergic Acid Diethylamide                             1
Methadone                                                        500
Methylamphetamine                                        10
Methylenedioxymethamphetamine              10
6-Monoacetylmorphine                                    5
Morphine                                                             80
Oxazepam                                                         300
Temazepam                                                     1000

Forensic toxicology laboratories will need to be able to measure these drugs in blood using validated and accredited procedures accurately at these levels in order to play their part in the enforcement of this legislation.

The development of robust and effective roadside testing procedures to aid the police in enforcement is also something which should, ideally, be addressed in the short-term so that an equivalent system to that currently in place for the enforcement of drink-driving legislation can be instituted.

Amendment to Sulphur in Liquid Fuels Regulations published by Nick Boley

The UK Government has published the Sulphur Content of Liquid Fuels (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (SI 1975/2014), which amends the Sulphur Content of Liquid Fuels (England and Wales) Regulations 2007 (SI 79/2007).

This amendment, which had previously been enacted in Northern Ireland by the Sulphur Content of Liquid Fuels (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2014 (SR 147), restricts the sulphur content of heavy fuel oils to 1 % by mass, and the sulphur content of gas oils to 0.1 % by mass. It also deletes the previous schedule 8 “technical requirements for sample analysis”. Schedule 6 is amended as follows: “The reference method adopted for determining the sulphur content of fuels sampled pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be defined by ISO method 8754 (2003) or EN ISO 14596 (2007).”

ISO 8754:2003 covers the determination of the sulphur content of fuels by energy-dispersive x-ray fluorescence spectrometry, and has a working range of 0.03 % to 5% sulphur by mass.

EN ISO 14596:2007  covers the determination of the sulphur content of fuels and fuel additives by wavelength-dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectrometry and has a working range of 0.001 % to 2.5 % sulphur by mass.

Drug Driving – Guidance to Healthcare Professionals by Nick Boley

Tough new measures to crack down on the menace of drug driving moved a step closer today after the government issued new guidance to healthcare professionals. The new offence of driving with certain controlled drugs, including some prescription drugs, above specified limits is due to come into force on Monday 2nd March 2015 after the government presented the regulations to Parliament today, Thursday 3rd July. The guidance helps doctors and nurses to start explaining the new rules in advance of the launch and reassure patients who take prescription drugs that they will be able to drive safely without fear of being prosecuted.

The new advice, which has been developed with support from the medical profession, advises general practitioners, doctors, nurses and health advisers on the changes to the drug driving offence and what it means for patients.

Police can already prosecute drivers if they are driving whilst impaired by drugs, including medicinal drugs. The new rules will mean it will be an offence to be over the specified limits for each drug whilst driving, as it is with drink driving. The limits for the majority of medicinal drugs are above the normal doses. Unlike the existing ‘impairment’ offence, the new law provides a medical defence for patients who are taking their medicine in accordance with instructions – either from a healthcare professional or printed in the accompanying leaflet – provided, of course, they are not impaired.

The guidance, therefore, also advises patients who take legitimately supplied medicines to keep evidence with them in case they are stopped by police to help speed up any investigation into the medical defence and reduce the inconvenience to the patient. The new regulations will come into force at the same time as new equipment to test drivers for cannabis and cocaine at the roadside is expected to become available to the police. If a driver is tested positive they will be taken to a police station where a further evidential test will be taken, which, if positive will allow police to prosecute a driver for being over the limit.

The new offence will be introduced alongside major changes to drink-drive laws as part of the Deregulation Bill which will remove the right for drivers who fail a roadside breath test to demand a blood or urine sample at the police station. This test can take place several hours later, which means some drivers who were over the limit when tested at the roadside would have time to sober up. The Deregulation Bill is currently progressing through Parliament and is expected to receive Royal Assent at the end of the year.  New mobile evidential breath testing instruments are also expected to be approved early in 2015 allowing police to take evidential breath tests at the roadside, helping to streamline enforcement and support police officers in making sure our roads are kept safe and free from drink and drug drivers.  2nd March is therefore the most suitable date to bring in all the provisions together. The police support this approach.

The Government Chemist contributed to the consultation process which has resulted in these guidelines and regulations being published. We are particularly interested in the implementation of evidential roadside breath testing devices – which require valid certified reference materials (CRMs) to be used to demonstrate their accuracy –  and of roadside tests for cannabis and cocaine. These will also require CRMs to check their validity and must also be subject to testing to ensure that their performance characteristics are fully understood.