New legislation is being put in place to tackle the problem of so-called legal highs across the country. Its called the Psychoactive Substances Act and will ban any production or supply and importation or exportation for human consumption of these potentially dangerous drugs, linked to 144 deaths in the UK in 2014.
Minister for Preventing Abuse, Exploitation and Crime Karen Bradley said: "Psychoactive substances shatter lives and we owe it to all those who have lost loved ones to do everything we can to eradicate this abhorrent trade. This act will bring to an end the open sale on our high streets of these potentially harmful drugs and deliver new powers for law enforcement to tackle this issue at every level in communities, at our borders, on UK websites and in our prisons. The message is clear - so-called "legal highs" are not safe."
The new act will make it an offence to sell so-called legal highs on the high street and online. Here's everything you need to know about it:
- The new legislation is called the Psychoactive Substances Act and it will aim to protect people by banning any production, supply, importation or exportation for human consumption of these potentially dangerous drugs.
- The term psychoactive refers to any substance that affects the mind but this act excludes legitimate substances such as food, alchol, tobacco, nicotine, caffeine and medical products. It also excludes controlled drugs which are already regulated by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
- The new legislation comes into force from May 26 and will provide a blanket ban on all so-called "legal highs" that have been linked to the deaths of 144 people in the UK back in 2014.
- The UK will be the first country in the world to put in place a rigorous system of testing to demonstrate that a substance is capable of having psychoactive effect, providing evidence to support civil action and prosecutions.
- It will provide a range of criminal and civil sanctions including new powers for police and tough sentences of up to 7 years for offenders.
- Sanctions will include up to 7 years in prison for the supply, production, possession with intent to supply, importation or exportation of psychoactive substance for human consumption. It will include up to 2 years in prison for possessing a psychoactive substance in a custodial institution.
- It will also grant police the power to shut down head shops and online dealers in the UK with up to 2 years in prison for those who fail to comply.
- It will also give police the powers to seize and destroy any psychoactive substances, search people, premises and vehicles and to search premises with a warrant if necessary.
- Since 2010, the government has already taken action against so-called "legal highs" having banned more than 500 substances since 2010 under existing legislation but the new act will go even further.
- The government will continue to take action across prevention, treatment and recovery to reduce harmful drug use and is working with experts including the advisory council on the misuse of drugs to develop new strategy.Legal highs have consistently been linked to both medical and criminal issues in the community as these recent stories from earlier this year show.
By Katie Feehan - The Essex Chronicle/May 22, 2016
Photos: 1-Vice; 2-the Telegraph
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Key Points to Remember About the UK's Legal High Ban, on the Cusp of Its Enaction