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

'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

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

Most Read

Wind-powered lighting is almost a breeze

13 August 2014 Research

news image

Mechanoluminescent materials seen in a new light

History of King Richard III written in his teeth

18 August 2014 Research

news image

Chemical analysis of isotope signatures in monarch's remains provide insight into his life

Most Commented

Why can we walk on custard?

12 July 2012 Research

news image

Scientists take a closer look at how shear-thickening fluids respond to impacts

Photon pinball identifies chemicals from afar

13 August 2014 Research

news image

Samples turned into random Raman lasers beam their secrets from over a kilometre away