Method development for monitoring Google-indexed e-shops offering new psychoactive substances (NPS) in The Netherlands.

Networking zone 4 (N4)

Abstract

Every year, several new psychoactive substances (NPS) enter the European drug market for the first time. To counter the potential threats these emerging NPS pose, multiple European countries have taken national measures to control groups of NPS through generic legislation. In 2022, similar legislation is slated to go into effect in The Netherlands. Currently, most NPS are not yet controlled in the Netherlands and can be easily purchased via online e-shops. Multiple monitoring tools exist for assessing the potential changes on the NPS market. Monitoring NPS supply on Dutch Google-indexed e-shops is a novel addition to this toolset. An updated version of the semi-automated shop finder (SASF) tool, SASF2, adjusted to search for Dutch e-shops has been developed. Three characteristics (language, IP location and domain) were used to classify e-shops as Dutch. The tool was implemented during 2021, with monthly data collection beginning in January 2022 and continuing until December 2023. The SASF2 crawler tool was used to obtain an overview of the number of Dutch e-shops offering NPS at the onset of monitoring. Collecting data regarding the price and form of the offered NPS, requires manual analysis. Therefore, only a subset of NPS offered through a number of pre-selected e-shops will be subject to a more in-depth analysis. Currently, two NPS (3-MMC and 6-APB) are being monitored this way, on a monthly basis. At the start of implementation, 11 e-shops were offering 3-MMC powder at an average price of €10,82/gram. Additional preliminary results will be presented at the conference. This method offers information on NPS supply through Dutch e-shops. Therefore, this method is a useful addition to the toolset for monitoring the Dutch NPS market once the generic legislation in the Netherlands will be brought into force.

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