A new Psychoactive Substances Bill, issuing a blanket ban on legal highs, will make producing and selling such substances illegal as soon as it is passed by Parliament.
Sellers of legal highs may have to venture into differing revenue streams as they will face a seven year jail term if caught producing or selling legal high.
Instead of forcing each new legal high to be individually banned as they are created and sold, like that of the existing system in place, the Bill creates extensive new powers to make all psychoactive substances illegal apart from listed exceptions (like coffee, for example).
Labour MP John Mann said: “We want them to close down before this Bill is passed. I want this House to send a message to those that are selling these products.
“Saying that, they have been selling these products perfectly legally for many, many years – so we need to give them the opportunity.
“This is only part of a process of educating the public as well as helping people that are addicted to these substances.
“At the end of the day they have to know if they sell these products from the day this gets Royal Assent that it is illegal and that it is a seven year sentence at the end of this.”
Psychoactive Substances Bill ‘Morally Absurd’
Although supported across many parties, the Bill was strongly opposed by the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords.
The Bill also faces scrutiny in the media as there is confusion as to whether or not it will include possession within the ban, and the clear definition of what will constitute an illegal psychoactive substance and the rules around purchasing from foreign websites.
Liberal Democrat, Norman Lamb suggested that it was morally absurd saying: “The bill manages to criminalise the purchase of a substance imported from overseas, but does not criminalise the purchase of exactly the same product domestically. Is that not just ridiculous? Can anyone in the chamber possibly justify that distinction?
“Is it not extraordinary that at this point of our consideration of a bill there is such concern about the possible implications of a definition? The view of many is that it is impossible to provide a scientifically or legally meaningful definition of a psychoactive substance. At least in principle, it could cover thousands of plants, spices, herbal remedies and over-the-counter medicines.
“The degree of psychoactivity necessary to establish a criminal offence is also completely unclear, as it is unspoken in the bill.”
It seems that a lot more clarification of what the Bill will specifically cover is needed before it is welcomed by all parties and to reduce a mocking perspective within certain areas of the media.
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