Leicestershire Police has welcomed new powers to tackle new psychoactive substances (NPS), more commonly known as ‘legal highs’, which came into effect this week.
The Psychoactive Substances Act, which came into force on Thursday, will provide a blanket ban on the production, supply and importation of new psychoactive substances.
The force has warned it’s now illegal to sell new psychoactive substances (NPS), often referred to as ‘legal highs’, and anyone who does could face up to seven years in prison.
The ban also means that giving new psychoactive substances to friends could result in supply charges and a prison sentence.
Chief Inspector Sian Walls, substance misuse lead for Leicestershire Police, said: “The term ‘legal highs’ is both incorrect and misleading. These drugs can have a devastating effect, whether you are a first-time or long-term user. All drugs are potentially dangerous and I hope the new law will convince society at large to take this issue seriously.
“This new legislation is a very positive step forward. Education and prevention is the main message, especially among known users who may be passing it to each other.”
Operations have been taking place across Leicestershire and Rutland to raise awareness of changes to the law. Leicestershire Police will be working closely with local authorities, schools and charities to educate users and potential users about the new law and the risks of taking unknown substances.
A variety of options exist in enforcing the new legislation. Officers have also been given powers to stop and search people, vehicles and vessels, enter and search premises in accordance with a warrant, and to seize and destroy psychoactive substances.
Lord Willy Bach, Leicestershire’s new police and crime commissioner, said: “I welcome the legislation which will hopefully save lives from being lost or ruined.
“As with all legislation we’ll have to see how it works in practice, but this is clearly an important step in the right direction. It’s important the proportionate sanctions are employed but these drugs are not known as ‘lethal highs’ for nothing and if this legislation saves one life it’s worth it.”
Illegal drugs such as cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy will continue to be controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act.