Tag Archives: psychoactive substances act

Psychoactive Substances Act: Killing people for votes

 

In May 2016, the legislative abomination spawned by Home Secretary Theresa May, the Psychoactive Substances Act, finally came into effect.

The Act was supposedly created to combat the rise of “legal highs”. Laboratories design and manufacture new substances, intended for use in research, which can often have similar effects to existing drugs: 1P-LSD, for example, has similar hallucinogenic effects to the Class A drug LSD. However, since it is a different substance, it was legal to be produce, sell, and possess.

Theresa May’s solution was to introduce this new legislation, making the production, sale, import or export of “psychoactive substances” a criminal offence. The Psychoactive Substances Act doesn’t ban a list of substances – it bans every psychoactive substance, which it vaguely defines as a substance which affects the brain, with a few specific exemptions. These exemptions include alcohol (responsible for 8000 deaths per year in the UK) and nicotine (tobacco is responsible for 100,000 deaths per year). Legal highs, on the other hand, were responsible for about 60 deaths in England and Wales in 2013.

For the purposes of this Act 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

Posted in Op-eds | 16 Comments

The Home Office is as out of touch as ever…

This week the Psychoactive Substances Act became law. Over at Politics.co.uk, editor Ian Dunt wrote a scathing review of the official Home Office guidance to retailers.

As he says, the guidance seems to be a melting pot of every prejudice you could imagine against young people:

The Home Office clearly envisions a youthful sub-class of drug fiends, unable to stay off the stuff even immediately ahead of purchasing it. Laughing gas has a mild effect which lasts for about a minute, so it’s unlikely the user would be intoxicated on it literally while purchasing more. Perhaps the Home Office doesn’t know this. Or perhaps they assume they are eating all sorts of drugs and are still high off them while going for a laughing gas chaser to finish off the evening. Or maybe they wrote this guidance in the same spirit in which they wrote the law: without due consideration for logic, legal validity or objective reality.

The drug fiend stereotypes go on and on. “Do they have physical symptoms of intoxication such as bad skin, weeping eyes, rash around the nose?” God help you if you’ve got spots or hay fever: the Home Office knows you’re a wrong ‘un.

This reminded me of how, under the previous Labour administration, carrying two mobile phones or ordering a vegetarian meal on a plane would be enough to raise suspicions of you being a terrorist. Helen Duffett wrote about that at the time.:

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 4 Comments
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