Campaigners’ relief as government seeks to ban ‘legal highs’

The Queen sits alongside the Duke of Edinburgh as she delivers her speech in the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in London
The Queen sits alongside the Duke of Edinburgh as she delivers her speech in the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in London
Fareham MP Suella Fernandes with members of Solent Waspi at her Senior Citizens Fair, in Fareham.

Solent Waspi campaigners attend Fareham fair

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CAMPAIGNERS have backed the government’s plans to ban the sale of legal highs – but want answers over how it will be enforced.

The Queen’s Speech yesterday included a bill proposing a total ban on the production, distribution and sale of the drugs, also known as new psychoactive substances.

The move could spell the end of the new wave of ‘head shops’ which have sprung up across the Portsmouth area and caused concern given their popularity.

And the move comes after Portsmouth City Council launched plans to ban the use of legal highs in public – with fines being imposed on those found caught with or under the influence of them.

Tory councillor Steve Wemyss, who put forward the proposal to the council with former councillor Alistair Thompson, said: ‘We will need to see the devil in the detail in terms of how this will be enforced, as some of these products are legally used for other things. But it’s very good this government has taken this step in the first place.’

Hampshire police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes said it was a relief moves are being taken to remove the ‘killer substances’.

‘We will have to see the detail of the legislation following the announcement, but I’m hopeful this is a start of removing these killer substances from our high streets,’ he said.

‘These poisons are killers, and it is right parliament acts to protect lives, especially of the many young people who, in ignorance, are tempted to experiment with these chemicals.’

Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond said: ‘These dangerous chemical compounds pose a real threat to the health of those who take them, like their already-illegal counterparts.

‘I hope that as well as the welcome reform in the law, we can continue a programme of education of those at risk from these drugs.’

One Portsmouth parent whose son has been affected by legal high use, said: ‘This is great news, but in the words of Churchill it is only the end of the beginning, and so although it will we hope close headshops, the trade will be driven onto the internet and street dealers, so tough penalties for dealers and suppliers will be required.’

Other legislation being considered over the next 12 months is an extremism bill to tackle groups who promote ‘messages of hate’. The NHS will also get an £8bn boost by 2020.

The European Union Referendum Bill will pave the way for a public vote on EU membership before the end of 2017.