07 Jul

Has the Psychoactive Substances Act made Modafinil Illegal?

The Psychoactive Substances Act Threatens Modafinil

Alright, this is the biggest news to hit the modafinil market since Cephalon’s patent ran out and generic pills flooded the market. And it’s a doozy. In the past, modafinil was completely legal to import into the UK up to a 90 days’ supply of the drug. This wasn’t just for modafinil, but rather all POMs (prescription only medications). However, since the passage of the Psychoactive Substances Act (PSA), fear has spread that these imports will be made illegal. As of May 26th the bill is in full effect. Here is the relevant text from the bill.

A person commits an offence if—

(a)the person intentionally imports a substance,

(b)the substance is a psychoactive substance,

(c)the person knows or suspects, or ought to know or suspect, that the substance is a psychoactive substance, and

(d)the person—

(i)intends to consume the psychoactive substance for its psychoactive effects, or

(ii)knows, or is reckless as to whether, the psychoactive substance is likely to be consumed by some other person for its psychoactive effects.

Let’s break this down: (a) restricts the importation of (b) psychoactive substances. Modafinil clearly qualifies. And (i) prohibits this importation with intent to consume. Because, of course, some people just like to store pills in the closet for the inevitable apocalypse.

Modafinil is still legal to import

Breathe a sigh of relief. The same passage of this bill makes a provision for “medical products”. Take a look at the text regarding this:

(1) In these Regulations “medicinal product” means—

(a)any substance or combination of substances presented as having properties of preventing or treating disease in human beings; or

As modafinil is approved in the UK for treating narcolepsy, modafinil qualifies as a medical product.

Okay, so things are looking good. But there’s one more issue to address. The PSA bill still respects the UK’s list of controlled substances, originally formed in 1971.

But modafinil has never been added to this list, making it legal to import for personal use.

Possession may now be illegal

The PSA bill gives the police considerable power to punish possession of psychoactive substances, including fines and a possible 1-year prison sentence for first time offenses. The bill was designed to target “designer drugs” or “legal highs”, in other words psychoactive substances that hadn’t been classified as illegal drugs yet. As a result, possession of anything psychoactive could be considered illegal.

What this means is that modafinil users should be cautious about keeping spare pills on their person when travelling in the UK. An arrest or a police stop for another reason could turn into an ugly ordeal.

Since modafinil is generally effective for the whole day, you probably don’t need to be carrying pills with you wherever you go. Best to play it safe given this new legislation.