1. The Psychoactive Substances Act 2016
From 26th May 2016, the Psychoactive Substances Act made the sale of psychoactive substances illegal. Anyone found producing, selling or even giving away such substances could face up to 7 years in prison.
Previous ‘legal highs’ that were made illegal (class A, B or C drugs) under the Misuse of Drugs Act, are still covered by that legislation. All other psychoactive substances will fall under the Psychoactive Substances Act.
2. What is a “psychoactive substance”?
Whilst definitions of “psychoactive substances” are broad, they fall under one of four categories:
- psychedelics or hallucinogens
- synthetic cannabinoids
Psychoactive substances are sold under various brand names, including ‘Clockwork Orange’, ‘Bliss’, ‘Spice’ or ‘Mary Jane’ amongst many more, and are capable of affecting a person’s central nervous system, mental functioning and emotional state.
3. Why are they dangerous?
Scientists have warned that these substances can be just as potentially harmful as more well-known controlled drugs like Heroin. What is perhaps most dangerous about these substances is that you cannot be sure what ingredients they actually contain and what effect they are likely to have upon you. Psychoactive substances have been linked to cases of poisoning, emergency hospital admissions and even death.
4. How is the new law being enforced?
This year’s new legislation is being thoroughly enforced by police. Following the introduction of the Psychoactive Substances Act, it is a criminal offence to produce, import or supply the former “legal highs” and any previously legitimate businesses cannot sell their remaining stock.
Police have powers to stop and search individuals and premises. As well as production and supply, possession with intent to supply and possession in a custodial situation are deemed criminal offences. In addition, offences will be considered “aggravated” if they involve supply to under 18s or occur near a school or local authority children’s home.
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird, welcomes the enforcement of the legislation in the North East, saying “I welcome the new powers for law enforcement to tackle this issue…We’ve been working hard with local partners as part of anti-sociable behaviour clampdowns in Sunderland and as part of a taskforce set up in Newcastle tackling the issue head on.”
If you have been arrested under the new psychoactive substances law, or your business is subject to a prohibition or premises notice, advice is available. Call us on 0191 262 5133, where our on call service is available 24 hours a day.