New powers to tackle the huge growth in ‘legal’ highs are set to be introduced. Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer, is said to be pushing for the most radical move, a blanket ban on all psychoactive substances.
My heart sinks. Do those at the top of government really think that a blanket ban will solve the problem? The evidence doesn’t suggest so: prohibition very rarely reduces drug use. So why do they think that an even more extreme level of prohibition will help?
New varieties of ‘legal’ high will be invented and put on sale on the internet. Many of these drugs are already imported from foreign websites, and it’s hard to see how this ban can stop this from happening.
The emergence of ‘legal’ highs presents a good opportunity for the government to reassess Britain’s creaking drug laws. But no, rather than seize that opportunity, they’ve grabbed the sledgehammer. This unsophisticated approach won’t reduce drug use, and it certainly won’t make ‘legal’ highs any safer.