Britain on Thursday banned the sale of a range of mainly chemically-produced recreational drugs known as legal highs, which legal loopholes had allowed to be sold openly online and in shops.
Karen Bradley, the government’s drugs minister said too many lives have been lost or ruined by the dangerous drugs formerly referred to as legal highs.
“That is why we have taken action to stamp out this brazen trade.
“The Psychoactive Substances Act sends a clear message: These drugs are not legal, they are not safe and we will not allow them to be sold in this country,’’ she said.
People convicted of supplying, producing or importing psychoactive substances can now face a prison sentence of up to seven years, while police will have the power to shut down headshops and online dealers.
The government said it planned to back its legal enforcement with a world-leading testing programme to decide which substances should classify as psychoactive.
However some observers have accused the government of over-reacting to the problem, pointing to the far greater number of deaths from illegal drugs such as heroin and cocaine.
Legal highs were implicated in 76 deaths from 2004 to 2013, and were deemed to be the sole cause of 31 deaths.
The government recorded 7,748 deaths involving heroin or morphine and 1,752 deaths involving cocaine over the same period. (dpa/NAN)