Legal high cause concern for criminal solicitors and ministers

Ministers and criminal solicitors find themselves in a constant battle against drugs and drug use. It appears that there are more new variations of drugs being created which are actually legal due to the high frequency that such drugs are produced. This high turnover means that ministers cannot legislate quick enough in order to protect the public.
The latest in a string of new legal substances is Ivory Wave, which has been blamed for the death of a chef on the Isle of Wight by the name of Michael Bishton.

The current process of criminalising drug use, requires the Home Office advisors on the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs to consider the levels of harm and danger that they drug may have before actually banning it.

Minister are looking however to try and implement temporary bans while the advisory council discusses the relevance of a permanent ban. This way, ministers feel that they might be able to get a foot in the door when it comes to tackling substance abuse.

Criminal solicitors will also know where they stand in relation to new drugs being the source of harm in cases. There will be tougher penalties, with those who supply drugs facing a potential 14 year prison sentence. You could also face prosecution for possession of a temporarily banned drug, in the form of a shorter sentence or fine.

Interestingly however, the Home Office has commented that those who are caught in possession of temporarily banned drugs in order to “prevent the unnecessary criminalisation of the young” would not face any penalties.

James Brokenshire, the Crime Prevention minister, said: “The drugs market is changing and we need to adapt current laws to allow us to act more quickly.
“The temporary ban allows us to act straight away to stop new substances gaining a foothold in the market and help us tackle unscrupulous drug dealers trying to get round the law by peddling dangerous chemicals to young people.

“Anyone tempted to try a legal high must understand it is not safe or sensible to take a substance when you do not know what it is or what is in it – especially when some are claimed to be pond cleaner or bath salts.”
Theses new powers and penalties are expected to be in effect by the end of the year. The police will also have the power to confiscate suspected substances and the Border Agency will be able to seize shipments of any suspected substances.

The flavour of the week, Ivory Wave has also been blamed for the hospitalisation of six people in Cumbria. This drug which is often labelled “soothing” bath salts is alleged to be more dangerous than the latest drug on the market “miaow miaow” or mephedrone.

The Association of Chief Police Officers said that it welcomed any plans to introduce temporary bans on such new legal highs.

“All too often people think that just because a product is legal, it is safe. However the make-up of these substances is often unknown and can be dangerous.

“The emphasis is clearly on public safety. Police will continue to focus our enforcement on those who import and deal in these drugs. We also look forward to contributing to the Government’s drugs policy consultation.”

Home Secretary Theresa May remarked that legal highs was the “next battle” in the war on drugs. But is it really? Have we won the previous war on drugs? There are experts on both sides of the table that truly are not sure which way to go.

About the Author:
Antonia Torr is a graduate from the University of Leicester, with a degree in Law with European Union Law. Having enjoyed writing from a young age, Antonia has received numerous awards that act as a testament to her quality of writing. The UK’s Best Criminal Solicitors, please visit our website at
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