Drugs coordinator calls for more focus on dangers of synthetic drugs
National drugs coordinator and UGent professor Charlotte Colman calls for more attention and a stricter approach to synthetic drugs such as ecstasy. "While Antwerp and the cocaine problem are under a magnifying glass, there is a danger that we will lose focus on other problems," she told De Standaard on Friday.
Belgium is a major producer of cannabis, ecstasy and amphetamines. This production is becoming more extensive and more professional. "This phenomenon may be less visible than cocaine, but it is no less harmful," says Colman. As well as tackling cocaine smuggling and the serious violence it causes, she wants to see more focus on the impact of cannabis and synthetic drug production.
There have been numerous incidents in recent years involving chemical drug waste. Labs are regularly found, especially in the Belgian-Dutch border region, but they are popping up all over Belgium.
"The focus is mainly on cleaning up the lab and the waste. Unfortunately, this is only a short-term approach," says Colman. "Less attention is paid to the environmental impacts, including the long-term harmful effects on the environment and public health." Drug waste ends up in waterways, animal feed and possibly on land people buy.
"There is a general awareness that we have a problem with drug-related organised crime"
She raised the issue at the Ghent Court of Appeal's opening of the judicial year. "There is a general awareness that we have a problem with drug-related organised crime. But, the sense of urgency that we see with the problems around cocaine is not as strong with other drug markets. They are less visible but no less important."
#FlandersNewsService | Illustration picture shows civil protection service with chemical drug waste that was dumped along the Maas in Kotem, Maasmechelen © BELGA PHOTO PINO MISURACA