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Question for Home Office

UIN 720, tabled on 2 June 2015

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent research her Department has undertaken to ascertain the safety of legal highs; and if she will make a statement.

Answered on

4 June 2015

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), the Government’s independent body of expert drug advisers, has carried out a series of assessments on new psychoactive substances (NPS). In its 2011 report ‘Consideration of the Novel Psychoactive Substances (‘Legal Highs’)’, the ACMD assessed the available evidence on the harms of all NPS. Since then, the ACMD has produced several reports on groups of NPS as well as specific substances. This body of advice has informed Government action and led to the banning of over 500 NPS. All ACMD reports and Government responses are available on GOV.UK. The Government commissioned an Expert Panel to look at ways to tackle NPS and to further enhance our response last year. On 28 May, the Government introduced the Psychoactive Substances Bill in the House of Lords, which provides for a blanket ban on the supply of psychoactive substances. The Bill defines the term psychoactive substance as any substance which is capable of producing a psychoactive effect in a person who consumes it, and is not an exempted substance. Exempted substances include medicines and caffeine. A substance produces a psychoactive effect in a person if, by stimulating or depressing the person’s central nervous system, it affects the person’s mental functioning or emotional state. We have worked with a range of partners, including with the devolved administrations, as well as other government departments and their agencies over the last few years as we developed our response to NPS. We will continue to do so in order to ensure that the Psychoactive Substances Bill is effectively implemented and enforced.

Answered by

Home Office