NPS / 'legal highs'
The government’s controversial Psychoactive Substances Bill has been postponed indefinitely, apparently due to concerns from the police that it would be unenforceable as law. This may be the first perspicuous thinking on the issue since the bill was introduced in July of last year.
The Home Affairs Select Committee has today released a report criticising the government for the way it is introducing its legislation on new psychoactive substances (so-called "legal highs"), and for its failure to look at evidence from other countries that have tried blanket bans like the one being implemented in the UK.
The New ‘Psychoactive Substances Bill’ is an example of the government to playing to the populist gallery by closing down visible sales of NPS through ‘head shops’. It will conveniently also sideline its own ‘troublesome’ experts - the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). ‘Head shops’, and the products they sell, need strict legal regulation, but the current Bill will simply close them in a way that causes more harm than good. Whilst making the problem less visible, the Bill will serve to hand the market to criminals both online and on the streets.
Transform and Release have produced a joint briefing paper on the UK government’s proposed Psychoactive Substances Bill, which goes for its second reading in the House of Lords tomorrow.
It looks as though nitrous oxide will soon be prohibited under the Conservative government’s Psychoactive Substances Bill, which has been widely criticised not only for being futile and counterproductive, but also for being a terribly drafted piece of legislation that will be a nightmare to enforce.
The emerging market for new psychoactive substances (NPS), also known as ‘legal highs’, has seen a growth in the range of products available that mimic the effects of cannabis. Transform argues that the emergence of synthetic cannabinoids and other NPS is a direct result of prohibition, and that a strict system of legal cannabis regulation would undermine the synthetic cannabinoid market and reduce the harms currently associated with it.
“Sell danger drugs on the high street, says minister” is the headline on the front page of the Times today. But this is poor reporting, with the paper is deliberately conflating two stories for tabloid-shock effect, and scaremongering by playing on the misconception that the legal, regulated availability of drugs means heroin will be sold in sweet shops or supermarkets.