A new parliamentary report has advised the government to leave legal highs on sale, rather than banning them straight away.
It has been published by the House of Lords all-party parliamentary group on drug policy reform and recommends that legal highs be made available in the UK under tightly regulated conditions.
The report notes that legal highs are appearing at a rate of one a week but current criminal sanctions for those caught taking them are doing nothing to quell their use. It is also concerned with safety, taking in the fact that many people who use legal highs do so without knowing what exactly is in them, as well as the government’s current policy of banning new substances for 12 months in order to simultaneously test them and keep them off the streets – it is seen as an outmoded and slow way of dealing with and understanding legal highs.
The group recommends that the UK take a stance similar to New Zealand, where legal highs are rigorously tested and managed.
Of suggested new sanctions on legal highs, the report reads: “Suppliers would, as is planned in New Zealand, be limited to certain outlets and required to label their product with a clear description of its contents, its risks and the maximum advisable dose. The supplier would also be responsible for assuring that their product causes only limited harms.”
“The greatest risk to young people from new psychoactive substances derives from the absence of reliable information about the contents and strength of each substance and its effects both short and long term… The name of the substance may tell a user little about its contents, and the contents may change from week to week. The more substances are banned the more are created and the greater uncertainties for consumers,” it adds.
The report seeks to update outmoded drug laws in the UK and understands that outright banning legal highs is not going to stop their use or production. Read about it in more detail here.