UK goverment to respond quicker to newly emerging drugs

With effect from 15 November 2011, the Home Secretary has the power under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 to invoke a temporary class drug order for a new psychoactive substance that is raising sufficient concern for government to act quickly to protect the public.

With effect from 15 November 2011, the Home Secretary in the UK has the power under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 to invoke a temporary class drug order for new psychoactive substances that raise sufficient concern.

Temporary class drug orders enable the government to act faster, on consideration of initial advice from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), to protect the public against emerging harmful new psychoactive substances while full expert advice is being prepared.

Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, as amended by the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, enforcement partners will have powers to tackle illicit manufacturers, suppliers and importers of temporary class drugs.

The new working protocol agreed between the Home Secretary and the ACMD details how government and the ACMD will work under the new temporary control power.

There are no drugs currently subject to a temporary class drug order. This status will be updated where appropriate.

Further information on temporary control provisions under the 1971 Act, temporary class drug orders and temporary class drugs can be found here.

The European Perspective

Since 2005, countries within Europe have reported 115 new 'pscyhoactive' drugs (sometimes referred to as legal highs). The speed with which they are launched onto the market pose a challenge to governments to respond. In 2010, a record number of new substances (41) were reported and two (BZP and mephedrone) were then subjected to control measures, meaning that Member State countries within the European Union must classify them as illicit drugs.

The European Commission will soon propose stronger EU legislation on new psychoactive drugs. More information on the proposed European response can be found here.

EURAD

Europe Against Drugs (EURAD) believes it is vital that governments respond rapidly to the threats posed by newly emerging substances. A comprehensive approach to tackling these substances should include mass media responses to ensure young people are aware of the threats posed, as well as actions to reduce access and availability.