The Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 (as amended in 2019) enables temporary class drug orders to be made by the Minister of Health. An order immediately classifies a substance that may have a risk of harm to the public, as a temporary class drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 for a period of one year. During this period, the substance is treated as if it were a Class C1 controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. This means the penalties for import, manufacture, supply, possession and use of Class C1 controlled drugs apply with regard to temporary class drugs.
During the time a temporary class drug order is in force, the Minister of Health must seek advice from the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs (EACD) about the substance and its appropriate classification. For further information on the National Drug Policy Committees and the EACD please see the National Drug Policy Committees page.
A temporary class drug order expires one year after the order came into force, unless, before this date:
- the substance is classified under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975; or
- the Minister of Health revokes the order; or
- the Minister of Health renews the order for a further year (this can only be done once).
The Minister of Health has issued a temporary class drug order under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. This order classified etizolam as a Class C1 controlled drug for a one year period. This came into effect on 17 February 2022 and will expire on 16 February 2023 unless it is renewed for a further year.
A temporary class drug order request for etizolam was received by the Ministry of Health on 29 June 2021 from the National Drug Intelligence Bureau.
Etizolam is a benzodiazepine derivative which has stronger effects than legally prescribed benzodiazepines. It has been implicated in deaths, both domestically and internationally.