UK government to crackdown on legal highs with blanket ban

Mike Penning

The UK government has announced a new blanket ban on legal highs that will carry prison terms of up to seven years.

Ministers will publish draft laws attacking the manufacture, distribution, sale and supply of the substances.

Legal highs, which are officially known as “new psychoactive substances” (NPS) have been associated with a number of fatalities.

The government said the Psychoactive Substances Bill will apply to “any substance intended for human consumption that is capable of producing a psychoactive effect”.

Caffeine, alcohol and tobacco will not be included and there will also be exceptions for medical products and food.

Controlled drugs will continue to be governed by their own regime.

The bill will ban human use of nitrous oxide – laughing gas – also known as “hippy crack”.

NPS contain a variety of chemical ingredients, some of which are prohibited.

They induce effects similar to those of controlled drugs such as ecstasy, cannabis and cocaine.

Home Office minister Mike Penning claimed the new rules would “fundamentally change the way we tackle new psychoactive substances”.

He added: “The blanket ban will give police and other law enforcement agencies greater powers to tackle the reckless trade in psychoactive substances, instead of having to take a substance-by-substance approach.”

The measures, which will apply throughout the UK, would include the powers to search people and property for legal highs as well as seize and destroy them.

Civil measures such as prohibition notices and orders would also be brought in.

Commander Simon Bray, of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said: “A blanket ban on new psychoactive substances will make it simpler for law enforcement to deal with those drugs which are potentially unsafe but which may not yet be controlled.”

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