‘No let up’ on legal highs, says government

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The government has initiated a range of measures as part of its stated aim to tackle new psychoactive substances (NPS). Along with the banning of synthetic opiod MT-45 and stimulant compound 4,4’-DMAR as class A drugs, the Home Office has published new guidance for police and local authorities detailing the action they can take against ‘head shops’ and has also written to music festival organisers about NPS ahead of this summer’s festival season.

The banning of the two substances is ‘part of a concerted range of action’ to respond to the challenges posed by NPS, said the Home Office. The government would also be establishing a clinical network to help share intelligence, it said, and was ‘developing proposals’ for a general ban on the supply of NPS across the country.

The country-wide ban would ‘give law enforcement greater powers to tackle the NPS trade as a whole, instead of a substance-by-substance approach’, said crime prevention minister Lynne Featherstone. ‘I will be working right up until the dissolution of Parliament to ensure we have done as much as we possibly can to pave the way for a general ban.’

Meanwhile, two new NPS a week were detected in the EU last year, according to the latest update from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). More than 100 new substances were reported to the EU Early Warning System (EWS) in 2014, up from 81 the previous year. Most were either synthetic cathinones or synthetic cannabinoids.

More than 450 substances are now being monitored by EMCDDA, more than half of which were identified in the last three years. ‘New psychoactive substances can move quickly from obscurity to infamy and cause serious harm,’ said EMCDDA director Wolfgang Götz.

Head shop guidance and letter to festival organisers at www.gov.uk

New psychoactive substances in Europe at www.emcdda.europa.eu