‘Legal Highs’ Banned Under New Bill

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A new Bill was announced during the Queen’s Speech on May 27th, that will ban the drugs popularly known as “legal highs”, with a blanket ban on anyone producing or supplying them.

At the state opening of Parliament the Queen said that the new legislation would “ban the new generation of psychoactive drugs.” This complete ban of new psychoactive substances (NPS) means the selling of newly created drugs that can effect moods, perception or consciousness will be illegal with a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment.

The bill aims to disrupt the supply of ever changing drugs, with new formulae being constantly created to stay one step ahead of the law, and decrease the risk from unknown substances. The new bill has opened up debates and concerns with some believing the laws will only exacerbate drug abuse. KCW Today discussed the problem back in February 2015, discussing the issues raised by legal highs, here is the same article for all to see how far, or not, we have come to resolving the matter of legal highs.

 

The Legal Highs issue has raised its profile again

The BBC reported on the 24th of February 2015 that research by think tank for the Center for Social Justice revealed that in England, the number of incidents involving a legal high rose from 1,365 in 2013 to 3,664 in 2014, an increase of 169%

In the September/October 2012 Issue , we covered the topic of legal highs.

It is official. We are an addicted society. Addiction is no longer portrayed through the park bench alcoholic or the heroin junkie, hollow eyed and desperate for the next fix; addiction and disorder sufferers are everywhere. They may be school teachers, politicians, athletes, journalists, musicians, or doctors.

The Legal Highs issue has raised its profile again, this time in Lincoln City Centre. A cheap and ready supply of legal highs in the City Centre is leading to what the authorities describe as “legal high tourism” .The Council says legal highs have caused considerable anti-social behaviour problems and it is looking to introduce a ban through Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) – a new type of power introduced by the government to deal with anti-social behaviour to tackle the problem.

But this is not the first time this issue has been raised and it will not be the last. In 2014 throughout the UK a reported 820 incidents referring to the term Legal Highs have been logged by the Police.

Research by think tank the Centre for Social Justice revealed that in England, the number of incidents involving a legal high rose from 1,365 in 2013 to 3,664 in 2014, an increase of 169%

Legal High drugs are not covered by the law and can therefore be sold on the open market, as well as through the internet. They are similar to illegal drugs but have had their chemical components changed enabling them to bypass the Misuse of Drugs Act and are therefore legal to sell. Some legal highs imitate drugs such as highly potent cannabis, heroin or LSD

The order proposed new Public Space Protection Order would prohibit people from using ‘intoxicating substances’ which include alcohol and legal highs, but the order only applies to public places.

The council has said it does not have the skills or resources to enforce the order so on-street enforcement will be the job of Lincolnshire Police.

 

The council have said they want to take this proactive stance and do something innovative to tackle the issue that’s having such an impact on people that live locally, work locally and for people who come to visit their city centre.

 

Insp Pat Coates, neighbourhood policing inspector for the city centre, said he fully supported the council’s action but he believed the measures do not go far enough.

“It tackles the on-street problem of legal high usage and the anti-social behaviour that we’ve seen as a consequence of that,” he said.

“We would like to see better legislation to enable us to deal with the actual sellers.

“It doesn’t tackle the selling of the products actually at the shops so we want to see further action being taken against those shops.”

In Ireland, the government has already introduced a ban on the sale of psychoactive substances, with the exception of substances such as tobacco and prescription medicines.

The Centre for Social Justice believes the UK government should do the same.

“We spoke to doctors in A&E units across Ireland and the reaction was overwhelmingly positive,” said Mr Oldham-Reid.

“Before the ban, young people were increasingly being admitted with psychotic episodes, heart failure and injuries related to their NPS use.”

Insp Coates thinks legislation could help in Lincoln too.

“There does need to be a change to current legislation if we are going to really effectively tackle the problem,” he said.

 

Legal Highs – The Internet – The New Drugs Baron

The drug dealer on the streets and in the playground has been replaced by the Internet pusher

This is a new market where chemists and suppliers are getting around the law by producing new drugs whose chemical make-up have not yet been deemed illegal. Legal highs are marketed and sold online and are readily accessible to anyone with a credit card and willing to lie about their age. Purchases can be made and delivered to an address within 24 hours.

Social networking sites form part of young people’s drinking culture by documenting their nights out which in turn informally “markets” alcohol and legal high products to their peers.  Websites such as highlylegal.com and everyonedoesit.com are just a few of over 40 websites in the UK selling legal highs – with some you just type in your post code and the supplier nearest to you will present itself.

Easily purchased ‘legal highs’, as they’re known to regular users, are available in ready-rolled-up joints  and various packaging from shops in central London and around the UK  as well as  online. Many are produced in laboratories and shipped all over the world. Urgent warnings have been issued by police but their existence is difficult to monitor because of their continually changing nature and ingredients. The creators of the drugs and the drugs themselves are a moving target and the minute something is banned a new drug is created with different ingredients and packaging. 17 legal substances were identified as being available in one month alone between January 2011 and March 2012, with eight found immediately online.  Some Legal High manufacturers are more than devious.  They just add another molecule and make a new ingredient. Statistics are impossible to discover because there are no criminal records involved and no regulatory body for the market.

Research from the Centre for Social Justice, said people underestimate the dangers of legal highs, or “new psychoactive substances” (NPS).

“Last year we found that the number of people in addiction treatment for taking NPS jumped 216% in England in the last five years,” he said.”Tragically, in Scotland alone there were 113 deaths related to legal highs in 2013.

“As ever, it is the most vulnerable in society that are suffering from the increased supply of these drugs, with strong drugs available for pocket money prices.

“Sadly young people report that their legality and high-street availability means some think they are safe.”

Rupert Oldham-Reid, a senior researcher at the Centre for Social Justice, said people underestimate the dangers of legal highs, also known as “new psychoactive substances” (NPS).

“Last year we found that the number of people in addiction treatment for taking NPS jumped 216% in England in the last five years,” he said.

“Tragically, in Scotland alone there were 113 deaths related to legal highs in 2013.

“As ever, it is the most vulnerable in society that are suffering from the increased supply of these drugs, with strong drugs available for pocket money prices.

“Sadly young people report that their legality and high-street availability means some think they are safe.”

In Ireland, the government has already introduced a ban on the sale of psychoactive substances, with the exception of substances such as tobacco and prescription medicines.

The Centre for Social Justice believes the UK government should do the same.

“We spoke to doctors in A&E units across Ireland and the reaction was overwhelmingly positive,” said Mr Oldham-Reid.

“Before the ban, young people were increasingly being admitted with psychotic episodes, heart failure and injuries related to their NPS use.”

Insp Coates thinks legislation could help in Lincoln too.

“There does need to be a change to current legislation if we are going to really effectively tackle the problem,” he said.

 

By Kate Hawthorne

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