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Drug charities have warned that new psychoactive substances (NPS) such as Spice are now easier to buy than ever before.

Prior to the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016, Spice was often referred to as a “legal high” and was available to purchase legally in shops and online.

The Home Office said that the introduction of the new law had “eliminated” the open sale of drugs in shops and on UK-based websites. However, following the criminalisation of NPS, the trade of these types of drugs has moved onto the dark web.

Martin Blakebrough, Chief Executive of drugs charity Kaleidoscope said that hundreds of anonymous websites are now selling Spice and other drugs directly to the UK market.

“[With the] click of a button, the postman will deliver these drugs to you within 24 hours, causing people who have problems with drugs more significant issues.”

He added that the legislation has simply driven the NPS market underground and made it highly accessible to drug users.

In recent weeks, the media has shone a spotlight on the use of Spice and similar drugs in Wales.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics indicate that there were seven NPS-related deaths in Wales in 2019, almost as high as the eight deaths in 2015, a year before the ban came into force.

NPS deaths made up around 3% of the 240 drug-related deaths in Wales in 2019, with other deaths caused by opiates (121), cocaine (30), benzodiazepine (22), amphetamine (12) and Ecstasy/MDMA (8).

Josie Smith, Head of Substance Misuse for Public Health Wales believes that substance abuse needs to be treated as a “health issue”, with users quickly identified and offered help and support.

She said: “We are now in a global borderless environment in terms of the manufacturing and transport of drugs, and psychoactive drugs, particularly. We need to address the challenges to that in a much more holistic way.”

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