New Ban on Legal Highs Approved in the UK, Health Minister Approves
Feb 03, 2016 09:39 AM EST
The Psychoactive Substances Act, or the 'blanket' ban on New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), has just received formal approval from the Queen (Royal Assent).
Come April 6 later this year, "legal highs" will no longer be legally available for purchase and consumption. The ban applies on all substances that can produce a psychoactive effect. Substances considered to be classified as 'legal highs' include chemical pellets and herbal incense.
Those caught supplying or producing such substances could face seven years in prison as a maximum sentence. The ban was approved to fight the fast production and dissemination of these legal highs that are not considered illegal by the current legislation.
This is not the first time that such a law has been discussed. In July, scientists from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) stated that such ban on these substances would prevent progress when it came to medical research, Chemistry World reported. Even if that was the case, these issues have already been resolved with exemptions. Research intended for scientific and healthcare purposes with a "legitimate" need to use such substances are exempted from this ban. Nicotine, alcohol and caffeine were also exempted from the ban.
Justice Minister David Ford expressed that the new law will "enhance the powers available" that enforcement agencies own. These agencies are set on a goal to prevent those who have intentions of supplying these substances in Northern Ireland and the UK.
"The Act is an important milestone in the efforts of the Westminster Government and the devolved administrations and represents a significant change in approach to the emergence of these substances," said Justice Minister David Ford, in a report by Belfast Telegraph.
Simon Hamilton, Health Minister, suggested and pointed out that the new law could potentially save lives.
"My department, and the Department of Justice, have been working very closely with the Home Office on this issue and I believe this new legislation sends out a clear message - these substaces are not legal and they certainly are not safe," said Hamilton in a post.