Consideration of the novel psychoactive substances (‘legal highs’)
The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) committed to providing the Government with advice on novel psychoactive substances (often colloquially termed „legal highs‟). This is a relatively recent phenomenon, exemplified by the drug known as mephedrone. The actions by the ACMD and subsequently by the Government on this drug have gone some way to reducing the potential harms caused by this substance. However, there is more that can be done. The advent of novel psychoactive substances has changed the face of the drug scene remarkably and with rapidity. The range of substances now available, their lack of consistency and the potential harms users are exposed to are now complex and multi-faceted. In light of this we have pleasure in enclosing the Council‟s report. This report provides advice on high level issues that ACMD believe the Government should give careful consideration to in addressing legally available psychoactive substances. The report does not purport to provide a single solution to the problem, but rather a number of practicable options that, in combination, seek to tackle the on-going sale, supply and consequential harms. It is important that the Government recognises that each and every department, that has a locus of responsibility in drug issues should both take personal ownership and share collective responsibility of the recommendations in this report. Tackling the issues that are raised by novel psychoactive substances requires a co-ordination of efforts that can only be realised by a strategic and co-operative approach. The ACMD has identified lead departments for each of the recommendations that should assist and guide the Government in this aim. The ACMD provides key recommendations in this report on legislation, public health, education and research. The key legislative measures are primarily concerned with tightening the enforcement of existing legislation and moving the responsibility for the supply of novel psychoactive substances to the vendors, such that the burden of proof falls to them. The ACMD believe it is for vendors to prove that such substances are neither analogues of current medicines nor products harmful to consumers in their intended form. The ACMD also makes key recommendations around public awareness from local to international initiatives.