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DIMS Annual report 2022: a record number of visitors at the drug checking service

In the past year, a record number of visitors reported to the various testing services of the Drugs Information and Monitoring System (DIMS). The number of submitted drugs was also higher than ever. In 2022, the DIMS had a record number of 18,377 visitors. Almost two-thirds of the surrendered drugs had been purchased as ecstasy pills. Although there is a slight decrease in the average MDMA dose per pill, an ecstasy pill with an average of 136 milligrams is still very strong.

The DIMS annual report 2022 covers the concentrations, adulterations, and other relevant information produced by DIMS in the past year, and in doing so forms a topical image of the Dutch drug market. Spread out over all Dutch provinces, the DIMS network encompasses 32 testing-facilities providing nation-wide coverage. Together with these partners, DIMS aims to create a clear insight into the Dutch drug market, and signal potential health risks to the public.

Limited possibilities to have Cannabis tested after adverse effects

Since the end of October 2020, we have analyzed several hash and weed samples that were found to be contaminated with the synthetic cannabinoid MDMB-4en-PINACA. Serious side effects can quickly occur after using this contaminated hash and weed. By default, the DIMS is not allowed to analyze cannabis, so users can only have cannabis samples tested at DIMS that have been used with adverse effects.

Effects and risks

The polluted samples hardly differ in appearance from unpolluted hash or weed. However, the effects of MDMB-4 and PINACA are much stronger than those of THC, the active ingredient in hash and weed. For example, after using very small amounts of the synthetic cannabinoid, balance disorders, anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations and cardiac arrhythmias can already occur. This can also result in rapid loss of consciousness, or in agitation, violent and/or psychotic behaviour. Also, several deaths associated with MDMB-4and-PINACA have been reported in other countries in recent years. There are currently no known deaths or life-threatening incidents involving hospitalization in the Netherlands. However, some users reported dizziness, extreme anxiety and panic-related complaints after using only very small amounts.

What is the advice for users?

Especially during this corona crisis, the use of drugs is unwise. Are you still using? Then be extra careful with the use of hash and weed. Take less than you normally use, for example one puff of a joint, and then wait for about 10 minutes. If you notice strange or unexpected effects and suffer from unpleasant side effects, stop using it and seek (medical) help if necessary. Have the sample tested afterwards at the DIMS. Consumers of cannabis or other drugs can download the Red Alert app so that they are immediately informed of the latest developments in the field of various extra risky drugs.

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