A campaign which highlights the risks of ‘legal highs’has been launched by James Brokenshire, Minister for Crime Prevention.
The theme of the campaign, ‘Crazy Chemist’ warns young people that just because a substance is advertised as ‘legal’ does not mean it is safe.
The campaign will be run in partnership with the National Union of Students (NUS). Posters and postcards will be distributed in university student unions across the country from Freshers week and welfare officers will be supplied with information and leaflets on the harms of so called ‘legal highs’ to help any students seeking further information.
James Brokenshire, Minister for Crime Prevention said:
“The legal highs market is changing. Unscrupulous drug dealers constantly try to get around the law by peddling chemicals, which are often harmful, to young people.
“Through this campaign we want to send a clear message to anyone tempted to try a new drug, that just because something is advertised as ‘legal’ does not mean it is safe and it may already be banned. There is increasing evidence that substances sold as ‘legal highs’ often contain harmful illegal drugs.”
Ben Whittaker, National Union of Students said:
“NUS has serious concerns around the classification of these drugs and their attributed name ‘legal highs’ – evidently, without clear information and guidance students are left in a much more vulnerable position.
“We agree with the government in the importance of educating students about the dangers of so-called ‘legal highs’ and the valuable role of students’ unions as the best method of communicating accessible, student-friendly advice.
“We encourage all students to socialise safely, and if any students have concerns about themselves or their friends they should approach their students’ union or FRANK or DrugScope.”
The Home Office recently announced that new legislation will be introduced to ban emerging ‘legal highs’ for up to a year while the government’s independent scientific advisors, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) conduct a full review into the harms of the substance.
The new legislation will enable police to confiscate suspected substances and the UK Border Agency to seize shipments entering the country. The penalty for supply will be a maximum of 14 years in prison and an unlimited fine. Possession of a temporarily banned substance would not be a criminal offence to prevent the unnecessary criminalisation of young people.
Following advice from the ACMD the government banned naphyrone, a chemical found in the legal high branded ‘NRG1’, and its related compounds in July. The ACMD continues to monitor emerging legal highs as a priority.