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Three legal highs banned from today

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009 Three legal highs banned from today

Home Secretary Alan Johnson, has today banned the sale of three ‘legal highs’ after they have been linked to the deaths of at least two people.

The banned substances include spray-on chemicals used on herbal smoking products like ‘Spice’, the chemical solvent and popular club drug GBL and the BZP stimulant.

Mr Johnson said: “We are cracking down on so called ‘legal highs’ which are an emerging threat, particularly to young people,”

“That is why we are making a range of these substances illegal from today with ground- breaking legislation which will also ban their related compounds.”

The move has been welcomed by drug groups but warned that there will always be people developing substances that are not banned by law.

The chemical solvent GBL, gamma-butyrolactone, which is used by clubbers as a substitute for the banned drug, GHB, known as “liquid ecstasy”, will become a Class C drug.

BZP, benzylpiperazine, and related piperazines has been made a Class C drug. These substances are stimulants that create a surge of energy but also agitation, headaches and sickness.

Users may now be punished with a two-year jail term and convicted dealers can face up to 14 years in jail.

Synthetic cannabinoids, man-made chemicals sprayed on herbal smoking products such as Spice, become a Class B drug. Anyone caught with a Class B drug faces up to five years in prison.

Harry Shapiro, of DrugScope, said: “The degree to which it will be a success is anybody’s guess.”

He added: “The market for psychoactive drugs globally is huge and it is no surprise that when one legal door shuts another opens. There are people out there prepared to spend time looking at the chemistry, spend time in the laboratories, trying to find something that will beat the law,”

Maryon Stewart, whose daughter Hester died aged 21 after taking the legal drug GBL, said the government had not gone far enough.

“Class C doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t send the right warnings,” she told the Telegraph newspaper.

“What we need to do is educate young people because I have now come to realise that people as young as 11 are taking legal highs by the bucket-full.”

In May a coroner in Sheffield linked BZP to the death last year of Daniel Backhouse, 22, a mortgage broker. He took two or three pills at a party last May, then used Ecstasy the next day.

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