Jamie Hailstone 26 May 2016

Councils back ‘legal high’ ban

Local authorities have welcomed a new law banning so-called ‘legal highs’, which comes into force today (26 May).

The Psychoactive Substances Act makes the production, distribution, sale and supply of such substances illegal, with prison sentences of up to seven years.

The new law has been welcomed by the Local Government Association (LGA), which said ‘legal highs’ have been directly linked to poisonings, kidney damage and the deaths of 144 people in the UK in 2014 alone.

Before the Act was introduced, trading standards teams were only able to use limited legal powers to prevent the sale of psychoactive substances.

None of these previous powers were specific to ‘legal highs’, which made it much harder to prosecute the people selling these substances.

The LGA said the new laws will make it much easier for councils and police to tackle the issue.

‘Councils have long called for new powers to stop the sale of new psychoactive substances,’ said the chair of the LGA’s safer and stronger communities board, Cllr Simon Blackburn.

‘This blanket ban emphasises the dangers these substances pose and anyone caught producing, distributing, selling or supplying them could now receive a prison sentence, which should serve as a strong deterrent.

‘Councils will work with the police on this new ban to protect our communities and highlight the risks of these substances to our residents, especially young people,’ added Cllr Blackburn.

‘We are aware of the risk that the sale of psychoactive substances will now move onto the ‘dark web’ – a network of untraceable online activity and hidden websites - and would welcome the Government putting additional resources into tackling the online threat.’

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