The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner have drawn up a draft amendment to the pharmaceutical affairs law that would extend the suspension of sales of quasi-legal drugs nationwide when a retailer is ordered to suspend sales of such drugs, sources close to the coalition said Saturday.
Currently, when retailers are ordered by inspectors to suspend sales of products containing substances designated by the health ministry as “dangerous drugs,” the suspension orders only apply to those particular retailers.
The early draft also proposes to widen the definition of products that can be pulled from sale to include not just drugs suspected of being designated substances, but also any other product suspected of having equal or greater hallucinogenic or stimulatory effects.
It also provides a new mechanism to order retailers to suspend advertising of such products.
The Democratic Party of Japan and six other opposition parties have collectively submitted their own bill to the House of Representatives to amend the same law, and the ruling parties are expected to work with them in adjusting their proposals.
But it may be some time before the envisioned changes can be deliberated, with the lower house’s labor committee currently entangled in debate on amending a labor law.
The ruling parties’ draft bill focuses on strengthening drug controls when the health ministry’s narcotics officers carry out on-the-spot inspections on retailers, allowing the ministry to order substance tests on not just products suspected of containing banned substances but any other product suspected of having equal or greater psychotoxic property, and to suspend the sale of the products pending the test results.
Products suspended from sale would be published in official gazettes, making them apply nationwide, unlike under existing law.
The amendment would combat online advertising of the products by allowing the health minister to order Internet service providers to pull the advertising.
The opposition parties’ bill differs in that it provides for bans on the production and sale of products if substance tests show them to have dangerous mind-altering effects, regardless of whether the substances have already been banned.
The issue of the so-called “loophole drugs,” technically legal but potentially harmful drugs, has gained public attention after a series of traffic accidents involving drivers thought to have used them.
A man has been indicted on charges of driving a car into pedestrians in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district on June 24 under the influence of such a drug. One woman was killed, while six others were injured.