The importance of educating people on the actual effects of synthetic cathinones cannot be overstated.

In the U.S., most states and the national focus remain on prohibiting synthetic cathinones. This actually drives the creation of riskier and less well-known substances. Prohibition also drives mass incarceration and the many other harms association with arrest and imprisonment.

In 2013, New Zealand took a new approach to the market for synthetic drugs by creating regulated restrictions for licensed importation, manufacture, and commerce of synthetic cathinones and other substances. In this type of regulated system, there’s an incentive for producers to develop drugs that have been tested for safety. Meanwhile, advertising and sale to minors is prohibited.

Education and Drug Checking

We must prioritize education about the potential risks, precautionary measures, and alternatives to prohibition to reduce harm over zero-tolerance policies and criminalization. People who choose to use drugs should know what they’re taking.

Expanding access to drug checking will help. This is one of the goals of DPA’s #SaferPartying campaign.

In the U.S., organizations like DanceSafe and Bunk Police sell drug-checking kits online and at music festivals and concerts when permitted, which allow people to test for possible adulterants.

See the fact sheet for more information and sources.