Five legal highs have been banned by the government, making the drugs illegal from Friday 10 April for up to 12 months while the independent Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) decides whether they should be permanently controlled.
Home Office Reveals Banned Legal Highs
The government accepted advice from the ACMD to make a Temporary Class Drug Order on five compounds related to methyphenidate, a class B drug, due to concerns about their misuse as new psychoactive substances.
Ethylphenidate, one of the drugs being banned, can be abused as an alternative to cocaine being sold under names such as ‘Gogaine’ and ‘Burst’.
In order to prevent users switching to drugs with similar effects and harms, the ACMD recommended that another four drugs are banned. These are 3,4-Dichloromethylphenidate (3, 4-DCMP), Methylnaphthidate, Isopropylphenidate and Propylphenidate.
Now the order is in force, anyone caught making, supplying or importing the drugs will face up to 14 years in prison and an unlimited fine under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Police and border officials are allowed to search or detain anyone they suspect of having the drugs and seize, keep or dispose of a substance they think is a temporary class of drug.
The Public Speak Out About Legal Highs
It is not just the ACMD that recommend that legal highs should be banned. In this month alone there have been many news stories in which the public have cried out for such drugs to be made illegal.
One such commentator was Alan Barnes, a 67-year-old disabled man who was attacked outside his home by 25 year-old Richard Gatiss while on legal highs at the time. DNA testing linked Gatiss to the assault on the 4ft 6in, frail and visually impaired Barnes after forensic evidence was found on the victim’s jacket pocket.
Barnes said: “I’m completely opposed to legal highs, it most certainly turned my own attacker into a monster resulting in a terrible experience for myself and our families.”
Gattiss’ crime appalled the nation, resulting in a global appeal for donations for Barnes, which later reached over £330,000. It was said that Gatiss came from a stable home but turned to crime to fund his legal-high addiction. In a letter to court his father said: “He started the slippery slope into drug taking and began using legal highs and the likable lad we had known slowly drifted away from us… We saw a deterioration of a formerly lovely boy into a shadow of his former self, whom we were unable to communicate with.”
Legal Highs Heart Attack
Earlier this month the sister of a man who died of a heart attack after using legal highs also spoke out in the news about her urge for the government to ban more legal highs. Jamie Penn, 29, died of a heart attack after a reaction to 4,4-DMAR, a synthetic alternative to cocaine.
His sister Charlotte Delo, 27, said: “Jamie suffered an awful death. He was in pain for hours before he died… I don’t want any other families to go through the same heartache we did. Jamie had a bright future ahead of him all of that is gone all because of these cheap legal highs… the drug that killed Jamie might be banned now, but there are others that keep flooding the market. There always seems to be a new high out there.”
Charlotte also suggested that it is not just the government’s responsibility to ban the drugs but also for people to understand that it is not worth the risk when they consider taking them. She said: “People need to get wise and stop taking them. How many young people are going to lose their lives to these cheap drugs? … this has totally shattered our whole family. We just want to get the message out to people not to take these drugs.”
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