Tag Archives: legal highs

Problems identified with enforcing prohibition of legal highs

There was an excellent article on Victoria Derbyshire show yesterday about the dramas the legal highs legislation is going through now the Police are having to consider its enforcement.  The problems centre on the practical difficulties for police of proving that a substance is ‘psychoactive’, that is, that it actually gives people a high.  Whilst this might lead to a surreal career opportunity for someone, the very process of defining what a legal high is shines a wonderful light on the futility of prohibition, with legal experts straining to find a form of words which makes mind altering substances illegal whilst still allowing for the use of substances as diverse as Super Tennants and Incense used by the Church of England!

The obvious answer is of course to end prohibition, gradually, and start proper regulation and control.  Cannabis is an excellent first step, and it would be wise to make a success of that before moving on to other drugs, but the legal highs legislation is a wonderful opportunity to make the wider point whilst the country is listening.  The government aim is to avoid the risks to users health and well being from dangerous legal highs, which is a noble aim.  The entire thrust of the legislation however is now concentrated on giving police the powers to define legal highs in order to the shut down the shops selling them.  This only makes sense in a very narrow ‘technical’ manner.  If successful, the shops might be closed down, or maybe the sellers will either tweak their products to side-step the definition or simply move into the darker parts of the internet, which will only increase the risks to the end users. In the meantime the police have wasted money and man-power, the exchequer has raised not a single penny in taxation, and if anyone still believes that prohibition will stop the end users demand for these legal highs then they’re probably indulging in some mind altering substances of their own.  

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 11 Comments
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