Synthetic drugs are sometimes called the "cousins" of more traditional drugs, such as amfetamin and ecstacy. The synthetic drugs are chemical, as opposed to organic drugs, such as marijuana and heroine. By changing a molecule or two in order to produce a new drug, the producers manage to evade the law, since the new drugs are legal until they have been classified. Some synthetic drugs are classified as "endangering health" and the punishment for bringing such drugs into the country are much lower than for more traditional drugs.
"The sad thing is that since the drugs sometimes are not classified or sometimes classified as "endangering health" many people, in particular young people, think that they are not so dangerous. And if they are dangerous, then certainly not as bad as the traditional drugs," says Lars Hansson, drug expert at the Swedish Customs, in an interview with Swedish Radio.
One example of such a drug is Mephedron. The first indications that it existed in Sweden came during the spring of last year. In December a young woman died after using the drug. The drug was then classified as "endangering health". It was not until April this year that it was classified as narcotics.
According to Lars Hansson at the Swedish Customs, it is mainly young people in the ages 18-30 that order these drugs.
"More and more people order these drugs on internet, since it is an easy way to get it. You do not need to go to a drug dealer, it comes straight into your mailbox at home after you have done a click on your computer," he says.
Young people are updated about which ones are classified and which ones are not, says Hansson, but the information they get is not always correct.
"They think that these drugs are harmless, but they are very very potent," says Lars Hansson in the interview with Swedish Radio.