Temporary bans to fight back against 'legal highs'

Swifter action to tackle new 'legal highs' through temporary bans has been promised today by James Brokenshire, minister for crime prevention.

For the first time the government will be able to react quickly as new substances emerge with temporary 12 month bans. The bans will send a clear message to users that these substances carry a risk and will prevent new chemicals becoming widely available.

The government will introduce new legislation which will enable police to confiscate suspected substances and the UK Border Agency will seize shipments entering the country. The penalty for supply will be a maximum of 14 years in prison and an unlimited fine. Possession of a temporarily banned substance for personal use would not be a criminal offence to prevent the unnecessary criminalisation of young people.

Minister for crime prevention James 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.

'However, 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.'

Substances would be temporarily banned following initial consideration by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD). The ACMD will then conduct a comprehensive review of the harms of the substance and advise whether it should be permanently banned.

'Legal highs' including naphyrone, mephedrone, GBL and synthetic cannabinoids have already been banned, but this new system of temporary bans will allow for a faster response. There is clear evidence substances advertised as new drugs - including Ivory Wave - often contain drugs, like mephedrone, which are already banned and known to be harmful. The temporary bans will apply to new chemical substances that have not previously been banned.