House of Lords written question – answered on 28th July 2014.

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Photo of Lord Browne of Belmont Lord Browne of Belmont DUP

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what powers are available to prevent people from buying legal highs online.

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the current legislation in place to prevent the purchase of illegal highs.

Photo of Lord Taylor of Holbeach Lord Taylor of Holbeach The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

The Coalition Government is committed to supporting the police and other UK law enforcement agencies to use the full force of the law to tackle the trade in new psychoactive substances, so-called “legal highs”. Robust powers are already available under existing drugs legislation to disrupt the sale of new psychoactive substances, including over the internet. So far, the Government has banned over 350 new psychoactive substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. In addition so-called “legal highs” are often found to contain substances already banned in the UK. We have published guidance for local authorities and Trading Standards on a range of legislative tools available to tackle the visible trade including in “head-shops”. This includes information on the Intoxicating Substances (Supply) Act 1985 which makes it an offence for a person to supply a substance that is not already controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, to a person under the age of 18 if they know or have reasonable cause to believe that the substance is likely to be inhaled by that person, for the purpose of causing intoxication. Last year two “legal-high” sellers were successfully prosecuted using this legislation. The Minister for Crime Prevention is currently leading an expert review to look at how the UK’s response to new psychoactive substances can be enhanced to ensure that law enforcement agencies have the best available powers and send out clearest possible message that the trade in these substances is reckless. It is anticipated that the panel will report their recommendations to Home Office Ministers before summer recess.

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