European parliament backs new rules on legal highs


New regulations that will make it easier to ban legal highs have been backed by the European parliament. The new rules proposed by the European commission could cut the time it takes to ban new psychoactive substances (NPSs) from over two years to 10 months, or four months in serious cases. They would also make it possible to temporarily ban the sale of NSPs for a year while safety tests are carried out – these short term bans could be imposed in just a few weeks.

The commission also plans to introduce a graduated system where the most harmful substances can be banned outright, while ones deemed to pose a ‘moderate’ risk are subject to restrictions. It says this could encourage manufacturers to make new drugs safer, and enable the EU to take action on legal highs that have legitimate uses, such as the epilepsy drug Pregabalin.

The use of NPSs worldwide is increasing, and bans can be ineffective, particularly when they take months or years to introduce. Critics warn that bans are ineffective as soon as one NSP is banned another pops up to take its place. The UK government has also been critical of the proposed regulations, and chose to opt out earlier this year, saying the plan could interfere with its own efforts to tackle NSPs.

The commission's proposal still needs approval by the EU Member States in Council before it will come into effect.


Related Content

Fears free trade agreements will hamstring chemical legislation

10 April 2014 News and Analysis

news image

Corporate watchdogs worry accords being prepared by Europe and North America will impede environmental protection efforts

'Legal high' production gathers pace

4 June 2013 News and Analysis

news image

New report highlights rapid growth in designer drugs fuelling fears that they could cause many deaths

Most Read

Super-fast charging aluminium batteries ready to take on lithium

7 April 2015 Research

news image

New battery charges in under a minute and still performs perfectly after being recharged thousands of times

Silicon chip spots dangerous pathogens in human blood

10 April 2015 Research

news image

Silicon wafer doped with silver nanoparticles can rapidly identify E. coli in blood

Most Commented

Women twice as likely to be hired for academic posts as men

17 April 2015 News and Analysis

news image

Experiment shows that faculty staff are more likely to pick women for job roles based on hypothetical CVs

Big problems with little particles?

9 April 2015 Feature

news image

There is a risk that poor toxicology studies could start undermining the success of nanomaterials, reports Elinor Hughes