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  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Swifter Government action is needed to tackle the problems posed by so called legal highs, a Home Office minister has said.

    Powers for year-long bans that can be put in place quickly will help take new substances off the market while a comprehensive review of their potential harm is carried out, Crime Prevention Minister James Brokenshire said.

    It comes after the legal high Ivory Wave was blamed for the death of chef Michael Bishton, 24, whose body was found in the sea in Whitecliff Bay, near Bembridge, Isle of Wight, on Saturday. His girlfriend Sammy Betts, 21, said he had started to become paranoid at his mother's home after taking the substance.

    Ivory Wave is sold legally for about £15 a packet and is advertised as relaxing bath salts. But the product has become popular as a legal alternative to illicit drugs.

    Outlining plans to introduce the temporary bans by the end of next year, Mr Brokenshire said: "The drugs market is changing and we need to adapt current laws to allow us to act more quickly.

    "The temporary ban allows us to act straight away to stop new substances gaining a foothold in the market, and help us tackle unscrupulous drug dealers trying to get round the law by peddling dangerous chemicals to young people."

    But he added that anyone tempted to try a legal high "must understand it is not safe or sensible to take a substance when you do not know what it is or what is in it - especially when some are claimed to be pond cleaner or bath salts".

    The ban will send a clear message to users that these substances carry a risk and will prevent new chemicals becoming widely available, the Home Office said.

    Under the proposals, police will be able to confiscate suspected substances and the UK Border Agency will seize shipments entering the country. Anyone caught supplying a banned substance will face a maximum 14-year jail sentence and an unlimited fine.

    But possession for personal use would not be deemed a criminal offence in a bid "to prevent the unnecessary criminalisation of young people", the Home Office said. It said there was clear evidence that substances advertised as new drugs, including Ivory Wave, often contained drugs, such as mephedrone, which are already banned and known to be harmful.

    August 19 2010



  1. Joe-(5-HTP)
    No penalty for possession- so people will likely order from abroad, some will order bulk and sell to their friends. Of course the boarder control can't stop them all.

    I saw in another report they say new drugs will be banned for a year- that it interesting they would put a time limit on the ban. I was worried they would simply ban something and then tie it up in political wrangling. What are they going to do when the ACMD publishes opinions that new drugs, such as MDAI, are very safe? Will they make it legal?

    Considering the potential number of new compounds, it seems simply impossible for the ACMD to investigate them all properly.

    Interesting developments seem inevitable.
  2. Phenoxide
    This was inevitable. The vendors got greedy, churned out product after product in assembly line fashion, and marketed them aggressively. What did they expect to happen? The government to back down and accept distribution of substances that have not been through any safety trials?

    They forced the government's hand, and in doing so have crippled their own market and set the UK back years in terms of a progressive approach to drugs law. All because they couldn't show a little bit of common sense and discretion. Good work guys!
  3. Terrapinzflyer
    ^^ agreed, it was indeed inevitable. But this is not really new news- it was mentioned in the roadmap drawn up during the power sharing negotiations after the last election, and was envisioned as the "holding category" (proposed by David Nutt if memory serves??)

    In theory it could be a good thing, but knowing governments, in practice it will likely just be a precursor to permanent bans.
  4. Subutex
    Any news on how quickly this temporary ban policy may be put into effect? I'd guess that many folk will want to stock up before its implemented
  5. Psiontist
    What are the chances of this new law being applied to botanical based substances like Kratom and Kanna? Similar laws in Ireland have scared at least one ethnobotantical supplier into closing up shop.
  6. Tamis
    The rc market seems to be going down.... worldwide !
  7. r160k
    SWIM thinks this could possibly be one of the most progressive drug policies the Home Office has drawn up in years...

    ...if it were part of an effective and comprehensive drug strategy reform :(

    [TO THE LAZY: apologies for the length of this post, I intended to keep it brief but got slightly carried away]

    It is a little patronising to outright ban supply of a chemical to try to stop its use; but were it the case that those drugs that have been around for decades, and many much longer, about which we know a great deal both chemically and medically, could be licensed properly for human consumption (just like alcohol), then giving new substances a probation period to be tested and have their potential safety risks examined would be an excellent one.

    Of course, were this the case, the RC market would be nowhere near as popular as it is today, people would know what they were getting and be safer, and the government could save millions on enforcement by ending the criminalisation of responsible individuals and spend it instead on treatment programmes for those who develop problems, on both legal and illegal drugs, and do so anyway under current legislation, which makes little difference and costs a fortune, as well as restricting people's freedom.

    But back on topic - SWIM personally feels with the number of new substances hitting the market before being properly tested it is important to remind the public at large (especially those amongst the populace too lazy to do any real research before buying something) that legality does not infer safety, and try to limit their distribution to some degree, however he does not agree with an outright ban on supply as it infringes upon people's liberties, and if someone does their research and really wants to try some new untested chemical they should be allowed to take responsibility for their own actions and do so.

    SWIM is not trying to suggest here that all or any specific "legal highs" are dangerous, and indeed he does dabble in quite a few RCs himself, now of varying current legalities (though generally better researched ones rather than brand-new pre-order still-trying-to-find-the-catchiest-name-to-advertise-it ones). He does hope however that those who joined the world of recreational drug use off the back of the recent legal high publicity phenomenon over the past few years will feel concerned about their safety, do some research (if they haven't already), and shift some of their focus to more conventional, currently illegal drugs, and help increase public demand for a very very long overdue rethink on drugs policy in the UK.

    And that demand seems to be growing - their has been a lot of debate in the media recently with a growing number of documentaries and newspaper articles urging an urgent rethink along the lines of declassification, as well as news media covering the opinions of experts and professionals making statements along the same lines. And the government launched a new Drug Strategy Consultation three days ago, which though admittedly having a long way to go, should at the very least stir up debate and bring the issue of UK drug policy to the forefront of media attention.

    SWIMs main annoyance about all the recent discussion however is the focus exclusively on habitual and problematic drug use, and how current drug policy is failing to prevent disaster occurring both to individuals and to their families and wider communities, which is nevertheless a very important issue that does need focussing on, but there is absolutely no discussion about respectful and responsible recreational drug use and the responsibility of individuals to look after themselves properly and make the right decisions for themselves - the Home Office's 2010 Drug Strategy Consultation Paper (hxxp://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/consultations/cons-drug-strategy-2010/), which is part of the coalition government's current multi-departmental re-evaluation of drug policy agreed upon in post-election talks and part of which is the temporary 'legal high' bans, consisting almost exclusively of questions for experts, professionals, voluntary workers and members of the public to answer about their own opinions rather than detailing specific policy ideas, contains the words "addict"/"addiction" 7 times, "dependency" 4 times, "problem" 5 times, "misuse" 13 times and the interesting phrase "drug misusers" once in a 3000 word document - thats one of the above words every hundred words (apologies if that last sentence sounds a bit like spin), as well as 8 mentions of "crime"/"criminal justice", 3 of "prison" and 10 of "offender"/"offending" - and not a single mention of "recreational" or "harm reduction".

    And this makes SWIM somewhat more sceptical about this new policy than he otherwise might have been - if applied in the right way, this could be a way to make the legal high and RC market a little safer as it could respond very quickly to not only brand new chemicals, but potentially even specific vendors, batches or manufacturers. It would also, if used properly, remind people about the dangers of all drugs if used flippantly, and encourage those who don't already to do more research and source products more carefully. However he fears it will not be used in this way, and will instead be used either as a holding bay for drugs while permanent bans are pushed through without paying much attention to chemical and medical research, the ACMD or the various organisations representing the concerns of senior police offices, and choosing instead to heed the infinitely more rational and scientific advice of the Daily Mail (sarcasm for those international readers who aren't aware of said publication); or as a purely promotional exercise for the Conservative-lead government to appease the right-wing traditionalists on the issues of drugs and crime; or even, a possibility both grim and laughable in equal measure, it could turn out to be a vain and fruitless effort to actually reduce drug use in the UK, rather than focussing on the much more achievable and ultimately more salubrious goal of reducing drug-related harm.
  8. corvardus
    SWIM agrees on that, including the caveat.

    That was the initial plan with the idea of Category D drugs from Nutt, where the sale of the drugs can be controlled and regulated and for an informed and robust ACMD debate on its harms can be made.

    Naturally the politicians got their mitts on the idea and used it as a pre-ban holding category making the drugs illegal quicker than the ACMD can make their puppet "recommendation".

    SWIM has heard this before. Does the general population seriously think that the label "Legal" equates with "Safe" after all the media bloodfrenzy they have been under for the past couple of years?

    Is it just naive to think that the only "Safe" aspect of legal highs would be the "Safe-from-prosecution" aspect, surely.

    The politicians won't be removing their thirst for public control any time soon. Giving the freedom back to the public to take responsibility for themselves is a step "too far"

    The problem as evidenced here both by the Herbal Highs and Research Chemicals forums especially for proprietary brands of highs is that it is difficult to determine what is in them. One can "research" all they like but at the end of the day it is a leap of faith when one swallows it.


    There is an assumption that the general population is stupid. The problem comes when one uses it to label the entire population. As a member of the general public one has the right to fill in this consultation and to provide ideas.

    SWIM is watching this one like a hawk. SWIM considers the myopic control of legal highs, that an entire generation now has a taste for, will result in forcing them underground straight into the arms of the drug-paddlers that will supply them with the illegal drugs exacerbating the drug problem to even more stratospheric proportions.

    If the Nutt-class Category C were to be the preferred option then batch and quality control measures would be required by the legal highs companies, which would be regulated by the home-office requiring inspections and spot-checks of the products. This ensures they are selling what is labelled. The regulating authorities under commercial confidentiality would have the exact compositional makeup for these highs and further the hospitals could quickly obtain treatment data for patients that have OD'd.

    At the end of the day the ACMD could make an informed and scientific decision that would be both robust and credible.
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