‘Legal highs’ a thing of the past?

Those looking to “spice up” their lives may have to try something other than synthetic cannabis.

Spice – a synthetic form of cannabis – has long been the choice for those wanting to get high without any of the legal repercussions. However, this may soon come to an end  this week following the introduction of the The Psychoactive Substances Act.

The act will see a ban on the production, distribution, sale and supply of so-called legal highs (which technically are now illegal highs).

Legal highs are said to have been responsible for 69 deaths in 2012 in the UK with the number rising each year. Experts claim the danger lies in the fact most legal highs have not been tested for human consumption . Risks include seizures, mental health issues, brain damage and heart problems – all of which increase if mixed with alcohol.

The news has not been met positively by healthcare professionals, the police or even government advisors. Critics claim the scope of the act is too broad banning any substance that affects a person’s mental  or emotional health; with the exception of cigarettes and alcohol. It is feared the once readily available susbstances will now only be supplied by street dealers who have little regard for the quality of the product and the affect it has on the end user.

UK governments have always tended toward a conservative approach to drug laws – cannabis being placed in the same category as amphetamines, barbiturates and codeine. Scientific studies revealing the safety  and benefits of the plant have been largely ignored, the report authors villified, while chemical based alternatives have flourished under the  “free pass” they have been given.

More bizarrely, despite government assertions of the harmful, unsafe nature of Spice, possession has been decriminalised – something yet to be achieved with  cannabis.

Campaigners point to the seemingly arbitary way most drugs have been classified, with alcohol and nicotine – a massive tax revenue for governments and boasting the highest death toll – still widely available.

With the US adopting a more relaxed approach to the distribution and possession of cannabis, many 420ers in the UK had their fingers crossed our government would soon follow suit. However, it seems the UK government is as determined to continue with its war on drugs as it is its war on terror.