So-called ‘legal highs’ to become illegal

legal highs

Retailers across Staffordshire have been made aware of new legislation that will make it illegal to sell psychoactive substances, so-called ‘legal highs’.

Officers from Staffordshire Police and both Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Trading Standards have visited retailers across the county and offered advice and guidance about the Psychoactive Substances Act that will shortly be coming into effect. They were also given the opportunity to hand over any substances they currently have to enable their safe destruction.



Inspector Neil Sherratt, from the force’s licensing department, said: “One of the problems is that these substances are cheap and accessible, whether through retailers or off the internet. Unfortunately people mistakenly think that because they are also known as legal highs that they are safe to use, which they most certainly are not. People risk their physical and mental health and cannot be completely sure exactly what they are taking.

“As a follow-on from previous work undertaken by ourselves and Trading Standards, we visited 15 retailers across the county to make them aware of the forthcoming legislation, establish if they were still selling, and advising them if they continued to sell after the new Act comes into effect they could face criminal proceedings and a penalty of up to seven years’ imprisonment.

“It was very pleasing to find that none of the retail premises visited were still selling these substances. We will continue to monitor the situation and seek to find any other businesses who sell these products.”

Councillor Gill Heath, Cabinet Support Member for Environment & Rural Issues at Staffordshire County Council, added: “The trend towards so-called legal highs is extremely worrying, as often people have no idea what they are taking, or how it will affect them. The chemicals they contain have in most cases never been used in drugs for human consumption before. This means they haven’t been tested to show that they are safe, so we would strongly advise people not to take them.

“In the past our Trading Standards teams have recovered a range of products from a number of premises, and are working with local businesses to clear up town centres and remove the risk to consumers.”

The Psychoactive Substances Act is being introduced to protect people from the risks posed by untested, unknown and potential harmful drugs that can affect physical and mental health. It will create a blanket ban which will prohibit and disrupt the production, distribution, sale and supply of psychoactive substances in the United Kingdom (a psychoactive substance means any substance which is capable of producing a psychoactive effect in a person who uses it).

Under the Act anyone found to sell psychoactive substances face arrest as a drug dealer and up to seven years imprisonment. Most substances sold under the term herbal highs are in fact made of synthetic compounds that can cause severe hallucinations, intense panic and paranoia and mental illness, nausea, respiratory and kidney problems.

Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, will also be banned. Users who inhale the gas from a balloon risk lung and throat damage, difficulty in thinking straight, hallucinations and dizziness.


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