Campaign against legal highs takes big step forward

BAN Police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes
BAN Police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes

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CAMPAIGNERS have hailed the decision to ban more legal highs as another step forward in the bid to permanently wipe them off the streets.

The government has imposed a 12-month ban on five compounds related to methylphenidate, a class B drug, due to concerns about their misuse.

...the guys in this industry will move on and create the next batch, so we need to use all of the tools that we have to prevent these substances being so readily available.

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt

Ethylphenidate, one of the banned drugs, has emerged as an alternative to cocaine and has been sold using the street names Gogaine, Gocaine and Burst.

Matthew Flatman, 35, of Gosport, died of a heart attack hours after snorting the drug – and the coroner holding the inquest into his death afterwards called for it to be banned.

But anti-legal high activists are also calling on ministers to ‘step up’ and stop variations of the dangerous substances being made and impose a blanket ban.

Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes said: ‘I support the government in imposing this ban. I hope, however, they will go further and pledge either a total ban or legislation governing the sale of these dangerous and life threatening poisons.

‘A poll run on my website shows that the majority of respondents either feel that there should be a total ban on these mind-altering “legal highs”, or that the government should legislate their sale and that local authorities should ban their use in public places.’

Portsmouth City Council is exploring how to ban the use of legal highs in public spaces.

Tory councillor Alistair Thompson, who proposed the move, said: ‘The council has very limited powers, but we are trying to use them in a creative way and be only the second place in the country to do this.

‘But the government has to step up. There needs to be far more of a blanket ban approach to these legal highs.

‘I welcome this, but I urge the government to do much more.’

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt, who has campaigned on the issue, said: ‘It’s great we have got a further ban on some particular substances which are highly damaging to the people taking them.

‘But the guys in this industry will move on and create the next batch, so we need to use all of the tools that we have to prevent these substances being so readily available.’

Anyone caught making, supplying or importing any of the drugs will face up to 14 years in prison and an unlimited fine under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

Calls made for wave of extra drugs to be banned

The ban on the latest legal highs will last for up to 12 months.

This will give the independent Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs time to decide whether they should be permanently controlled.

To prevent users from switching to related drugs, the ACMD has recommended the following four drugs be banned: 3,4-Dichloromethylphenidate, Methylnaphthidate – also known as HDMP-28 – Isopropylphenidate and Propylphenidate.

The News has called for greater action to be taken since parents and local politicians began highlighting the issue.

To read The News’ view on this click here.