A drug precursor is any substance, mixture or product that could be used in the cultivation, production or synthesis of different types of drugs (narcotic or psychotropic substances) contained in the Vienna Convention of 1988.
In many industries, particularly in the chemical, pharmaceutical and food industries, it is necessary to work with multiple substances that appear on the official list of drug precursors.
To minimize the risk of illegal use of these substances, essential in numerous chemical processes, or in the cleanliness of the production lines, it was decided to carry out a rigorous control of their producers and their customers, so that not only it is known who buys or sells any possible drug precursor, but also the quantities involved. In other words, material balances are required to match to prevent illegal trafficking of these types of precursor substances.
Spain must comply with the European Union legislation regarding drug precursors, and it currently does so with Law 4/2009 from June 15 on the control of drug precursors, together with the application regulation, approved by the Royal Decree 129/2017, from February 24.
Apart from the minimum measures required by the European Union, each country in particular can adopt more or less restrictive regulations that must be taken into account when exporting. Conversely, if raw materials or intermediate products are imported from non-EU countries, the head of the importing company must ensure that those substances comply with the legislation in force in their country, in this case, Spain.
The regulations and laws that must be consulted and followed at all times are the following:
- Regulation (CE) n. º 273/2004.It establishes a series of intra-community measures for the control and supervision of substances that could be used in legal or clandestine production processes of narcotic or psychotropic drugs. The purpose of this regulation is to avoid the diversion of this type of precursor materials.
- Regulation (CE) n. º 111/2005. This regulation establishes rules for the surveillance of the trade in drug precursors between member countries of the European Union and, in particular, with third countries, which may have less strict legislation in this regard.
- Law 4/2009. This law establishes the system for granting activity licenses with drug precursors, as well as the sanctions that will be applied in case of not complying with the provisions contained in the regulations of the previous two points.
- Royal Decree 129/2017. Its greatest novelty is that it goes on to classify drug precursor substances into three large groups, so that for each group there are obligations and penalties in case of not complying with all current relative legislation. This Royal Decree affects those who sell or buy substances on the list, as well as those who handle or use them in their jobs or in teaching.
- Category 1 substances. They are used in the synthesis of organic products, in the pharmaceutical industry, in the development of cosmetics and in medical research, so they are the substances under greater control.
- Category 2 substances. Substances of great importance in the manufacture of some drugs such as cocaine, their industrial uses are those related to dyes, textile industry and pharmaceutical sectors. They do not require an activity license as is the case with category 1 products, although in return any person working with these substances must be registered in a special operator registry. It is also mandatory to report any theft detected and any suspicion that small quantities of any of the substances in this category could be diverted.
- Category 3 substances. They are substances widely used in the illegal synthesis of different drugs, but they are also substances common in the industry and in the domestic sphere. For this group of substances, control focuses on imports and exports along with the obligation to report any theft or suspect the removal of any substance in this category.