MPS have spoken out in support of a new bill to outlaw legal highs and have welcomed a campaign to promote a better understanding of how the lethal drugs are being used.
Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage and Fareham MP Suella Fernandes spoke in support of a ban on legal highs, which moved a step closer after MPs backed new legislation in Parliament aimed at outlawing the sale of psychoactive substances.
The Psychoactive Substances Bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons, agreed unanimously by MPs, on Monday.
Miss Fernandes said: ‘Having spoken to the police about the damage these substances do to people who run the risk of addiction and severe harm, I very much welcome this bill.
‘For too long, the authorities have had to play a game of cat and mouse, with new drugs hitting the market faster than they can be banned.
‘This approach will put a stop to that, by introducing a blanket ban on all such products. I look forward to this becoming law very soon.’
Under the new legislation, it will be an offence to produce, supply, offer to supply, possess with intent to supply, import or export psychoactive substances.
The maximum sentence will be seven years’ imprisonment and all of the UK will be subject to the blanket ban.
The bill will now proceed to its committee stage for scrutiny, but is expected to become law within months.
Ms Dinenage said: ‘Legal highs should be renamed lethal highs; the prolific use of them, particularly among young people in our area is a grave cause for concern.’
Both MPs also welcomed a campaign launched on Monday by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight’s Youth Commission.
She said that part of the problem is the lack of information on legal highs, both in terms of advice and usage.
The News has launched a campaign called Legal Highs: Only Lows which aims to ensure that the government follows up its pledge to bring in a ban.
It also aims to raise awareness of the dangers, and encourage local authorities to work out how to enforce the ban, and publicise sources of help for those who have taken legal highs.
The Youth Commission has created a survey for people to complete to find out what people know about legal highs and to understand how people are using them.
Ms Dinenage said: ‘It is absolutely right to be conducting research into the usage of these substances in order to gain a more informed idea of the action that needs to be taken. The bigger the dataset the better so do take a minute to complete this survey.’
The survey is at surveygizmo.com/s3/2374959/Lethal-Highs-survey.