5.1 Legal Status
An analysis of the legal status of 4-MTA in the 15 Member States shows that only in Sweden is the
drug controlled permanently. In the Netherlands, following the assessment of the Coordination
Center for Assessment and Monitoring of New Drugs of Misuse (CAM), options being considered
include the placing of 4-MTA within the Opium Act for a period of one year, or the use of medicines
legislation as a means of control. In Germany, 4-MTA has been provisionally controlled under the
Narcotics Act, for a one-year period. Recently, the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA) has carried out an
risk assessment. In January 1999, the German Expert Board endorsed the permanent control of 4-
MTA. The amendment of the narcotics regulation is scheduled to come into operation during 1999.
In France, 4-MTA is under immediate review. Steps are being taken in the UK to schedule 4-MTA
under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
5.2 Possible Consequences of Prohibition
The meeting acknowledged the well established and broadly accepted fact of prohibition of MDMA.
As this substance served as a point of reference for the risk assessment of 4-MTA and in view of
the fact that the acute hazards of 4-MTA were generally not considered as less serious, there is
little scope for an alternative to prohibition as a measure of control. The possibility of bringing the
substance under the regulations for the control of medicines was the only alternative considered.
Doubts were expressed as to whether this approach was the most appropriate method of control.
Exempting 4-MTA from legal control would send an inaccurate message about the comparative
safety of the substance.
In accepting prohibition of 4-MTA as the most viable model of control there was a strong
consensus that prohibition should not impede any kind of non-repressive preventive or harm
reduction actions. Most importantly an urgent need for educating and informing (potential) user
groups of the realistic hazards of the substance was expressed by the meeting. Such an effort
should specifically be directed at informing users of 4-MTA of the long latency period to prevent
them from inadvertently taking overdoses.
The opinion was also expressed that the application of criminal law should specifically be directed
at the supply level (producers and distributors) of 4-MTA. Marginalisation of users should be
avoided as much as possible.
The meeting noted that since 4-MTA is part of the larger ‘ecstasy’ market, prohibition is unlikely to
have a significant impact on the availability and usage of ‘ecstasy’ in general. It was also
suggested that one consequence of prohibition might be to stimulate the search for newer