EU legal highs clampdown welcomed

17-Sep-2013 @ 12:0

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Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Proposals to strengthen the EU's ability act against 'legal highs' have been welcomed by Conservative home affairs spokesman Timothy Kirkhope MEP.

The commission has presented new rules that would speed up the procedure for banning harmful drugs and removing them from sale across the Single Market. The procedure for banning a substance will be reduced from two years to ten months but substances can be removed from the market immediately for up to a year while their risk is assessed. The new rules will also allow for less harmful products to be subjected to slightly more flexible restrictions (rather than banned outright as it currently the case), whilst high risk drugs will be removed completely from the market and criminalised.

The psychoactive substances act in a similar way to illegal narcotics such as ecstasy and cocaine, but it can take significant amounts of time before they are formally banned. In the UK alone the Office for National Statistics showed that deaths related to the substances rose from 29 in 2011 to 52 in 2012.

Initially mephedrone based drugs such as 'meow meow' were outlawed, but new substances have been synthesised to take their place.

Mr Kirkhope, who leads on these issues for the European Conservatives and Reformists group in the parliament, said:

"Legal highs have destroyed so many lives that we must act to tighten the loopholes that allow them to be sold freely.

"The labs in China are moving faster than the law. Initially mephedrone drugs like 'meow meow' were banned, but new substances have been synthesised to take their place. We need to be able to act immediately to take these products off the market across Europe.

"Many people assume that because a substance is openly on sale that there are limited risks. However, the families of the 52 people killed in the UK last year would certainly disagree.

"As well as moving to intercept new substances much faster, we must also raise the profile of the dangers of these drugs. We need to make legal highs illegal much faster, but people must also take responsibility for their own actions so they should have all the facts readily available to them."

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