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England and Wales: Government to Introduce Legislation to Prevent “Legal Highs”

(Aug. 24, 2010) The British government announced on August 20, 2010, that it will introduce legislation to temporarily ban psychoactive substances that are currently legal, but used by people to become intoxicated. The temporary ban will mean that it will be unlawful to possess with intent to supply, supply, offer to supply, import, export, or produce the drugs in question under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

Notably excluded from the list of these offenses is the possession of the substance for personal use. This has not been included in order “to prevent the unnecessary criminalization of young people.” (Home Office, Temporary Bans to Fight Back against 'Legal Highs,' NEWS DISTRIBUTION SERVICE FOR GOVERNMENT AND THE PUBLIC SECTOR (Aug. 20, 2010),
.) The proposed legislation will allow the United Kingdom Border Agency to seize shipments entering the country and the police to confiscate suspected substances.

The penalty for violating the offenses will be a maximum of 14 years of imprisonment and/or a fine; there is no limit on the fine that can be given. The temporary ban period will be used to have independent experts review the health issues and concerns that the misuse of these substances can cause. The government has stated that it will not permanently ban a substance “without receiving full advice from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.” The government's aims are to have the power to react quickly to new “problem” substances and to “send a clear message to users that these substances carry a risk and will prevent new chemicals becoming widely available.” (Id.; Home Office, 2010 Drug Strategy Consultation Paper,
(last visited Aug. 23, 2010).)