MEPHEDRONE is to be outlawed in the Island, Health Minister Eddie Teare has announced.
Mr Teare MHK said he had taken the decision to bring forward legislation to deal specifically with the escalating problem of mephedrone abuse.
And he said he would reviewing ways to make it quicker to criminalise other substances.
Certain substances that fall into the category of legal highs will become controlled substances as of December 23 under arrangements by which the DHSS was required to keep legislation in this area in line with that of the UK.
But this does not included mephedrone, which is currently being considered for inclusion by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs in the UK.
There are currently no powers in Manx law to ban controlled substances without them first being listed as such in the UK, but the Health Minister said the Isle of Man would now take its own 'short, sharp' action.
Mr Teare said: 'We will be bringing forwards legislation to deal specifically with mephedrone. If someone who thinks that mephedrone is purely recreational with no downsides whatsoever saw some of the patients who present themselves at Noble's A&E they would have a completely different point of view.'
Mr Teare said that in the 'fullness of time' he would be reviewing other primary legislation with a view to taking an order to Tynwald creating a list of controlled substances to which new drugs could be added when necessary.
'This would give us the means to proscribe a drug much more quickly,' he said.
Home Affairs Minister Adrian Earnshaw told Tynwald last week that a high-level cross-department strategic group had been set up to look at the legality, use of and supply of mephedrone, which he described as a 'complex matter'.
Mr Earnshaw did not rule out criminalisation of mephedrone but described the situation as a 'moving target', by which no sooner had one substance been outlawed than another with a slightly different chemical formula would come along to replace it.
Letter to parents warns of dangers
PARENTS and carers of secondary school children are to receive a letter warning about the current threat posed by legal highs.
The letter, which was posted to parents from Friday, explains that mephedrone and other substances known as 'herbal highs' can be easily obtained over the internet or bought locally.
Home Affairs member Bill Malarkey MHK said the issue of the availability of legal highs was being taken very seriously by government.
He said: 'However, I feel it's important that parents of secondary school children should be fully aware of what is available to their children, and I hope my letter will serve to encourage parents to play their part in educating their children to refuse any drugs that are offered to them, whether they are legal substances or any other drugs'.
He emphasised that 'we all have a role to play in this'. In the letter Mr Malarkey adds that the government was looking at ways to prevent these substances being sold but 'unfortunately as fast as you make one substance illegal, it is replaced by another product almost immediately'.
He adds: 'This is an ongoing challenge for government'.
He concludes his letter with contact numbers and websites by which parents can obtain more information about legal highs, including the Department of Education's drug and alcohol liaison officer on 693837 and DASH on 615622, or the Drug and Alcohol Team on 617899.
The letter to parents follows a recent announcement by pub and club licensees that anyone who was found in possession of legal highs on their premises would face an Island-wide ban from their establishments.
By ADRIAN DARBYSHIRE
December 21, 2009
Health minister to outlaw 'legal high' mephedrone