The Home Office proposed changes to the Misuse of Drugs Act after realising that none of the 36 laboratory-made drugs falls within the definition of ecstasy in the current legislation.
The National Criminal Intelligence Service began investigating the sale of such drugs on the World Wide Web earlier this year. Les Fiander, of the NCIS drugs unit, said that other countries should follow Britain's lead. "Our intelligence suggests criminal involvement in the manufacture of these substances," he said.
The variants are being produced in tablet form and are marketed by drug dealers as ecstasy. Some users refer to the tablets as "snides" although they produce similar effects to genuine ecstasy or MDMA.
The Home Office announcement yesterday coincided with the funeral of Scottish teenage fitness instructor Julia Dawes who died after taking two ecstasy tablets on a night out with friends.
Home Office minister George Howarth said: "We all know the dangers of ecstasy and the Government has a responsibility to do all it can to prevent more of these types of substances being launched on to the illicit market."
Many of the ecstasy variants were identified by American drugs guru Alexander Shulgin, a 73-year-old Californian chemist who is widely regarded as being the originator of the ecstasy explosion.Reuse content