Scots minister urges blanket ban on all legal highs

The Scottish legal affairs minister has called for new legislation to tackle the problem of so-called legal highs, as he backed a new report published by an expert review group.

The report recommends a range of measures and suggests that the Scottish Government works with the Home Office to adapt key policies used in the Republic of Ireland.

Paul Wheelhouse MSP said he would meet with UK Crime Prevention Minister Lynne Featherstone MP to discuss creating new laws.


Mr Wheelhouse said in a statement to MSPs that he accepted all of the recommendations contained in the review.

“It has become increasingly clear over the past few years that the danger of new psychoactive substances represents a significant challenge for our health, justice and third-sector organisations”, Mr Wheelhouse said.

He added: “The fact their ingredients are unknown and untested is particularly worrying, and we have seen tragic incidents where these substances have caused huge harm to users, even death.”


He said there was “no silver bullet to tackle the problem”, but felt they could make “strong progress to keep our communities safe”.

Currently drugs legislation is controlled by Westminster and legal highs are banned on a case-by-case basis in the UK.

The Government has banned 350 legal highs since 2010, but it has struggled to stop manufacturers in China and India from modifying the molecular structures and creating new forms of the drugs.

Blanket ban

But the Home Office is drafting new legislation to place a blanket ban on all such substances, which it hopes to push through ahead of the General Election in May.

The legislation would ban all attempts to advertise, sell or import the substances, and also outlaw the use of a substance based on its impact on the brain.

Last year, Home Secretary Theresa May said: “A couple of proposals have come out and we are looking to work on a blanket ban based on the sort Ireland has to make enforcement easier”.

Related Resources