Govt scientists calls for ‘legal high’ ban
Legal herbal highs sold on the high street and internet could be banned in time for Christmas, after the government’s drug experts recommended legislation.
The move would be the first to target herbal highs, legal versions of criminalised drugs.
The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) warned Spice Gold, which is advertised as an “aromatic potpourri”, contains synthetic cannabinoid – replicating the effect of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis.
The advice comes after former home secretary Jacqui Smith asked the council to review the issue.
Current home secretary Alan Johnson is likely to support the advice.
Previous recommendations from the committee to downgrade ecstasy to Class B, and a report arguing that the government should not reclassify cannabis from Class C, were ignored by the government, but findings recommending tougher rules are generally accepted.
Spice Gold was first imported from China in 2006, costing around £20 for three grams.
But the properties of the product were only fully understood last December, by the THC Pharm lab in Germany, which develops medicinal cannabis.
The realisation was swiftly followed by a ban in Germany, Austria and France.
Professor David Nutt, Chair of the ACMD, said: “Spice and other synthetic cannabinoid products are being sold legally as harmless ‘herbal legal highs’. However, the herbal content is coated in one or more dangerous chemical compounds that mimic the effects of cannabis.
“These are not harmless herbal alternatives and have been found to cause paranoia and panic attacks.”
The council will now look at Salvia Divinorum, a popular smokeable drug, which prompts laughter and mystic visions in users for a short period of time.