News story

Deadly "legal highs" which mimic Class A drugs to be banned

A lethal psychedelic drug should be controlled as a Class A substance, according to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD).


AMT, which acts in a similar way to LSD, should be banned along with other deadly substances in a group of chemicals known as tryptamines, which also includes 5-MeO-DALT, known as “rockstar” or “green-beans”.

The ACMD’s experts have gathered evidence which shows these highly potent drugs have become widely available in the UK, but they currently fall outside of controls in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

The council proposes expanding the current description of the tryptamine family of compounds under the Act to ensure that newly created drugs are also banned.

It is also recommending the control of the synthetic opiate AH-7921, which has been sold online as a “research chemical” but is also referred to as “legal heroin”. AH-7921 mimics the effects of morphine.

An inquest last year found a British man died after overdosing on the substance he bought for £25 on the internet.

The Home Office asked the ACMD to provide advice as a priority when it was flagged by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) earlier this year.

Professor Les Iversen, Chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, said:

People should be under no illusion, these substances marketed as so-called ‘legal highs’ can cause serious damage to your health and in some cases, even death.

The ACMD has prioritised its research on legal highs, particularly those found to be the most potent and harmful, and will continue to review new substances picked up by the Forensic Early Warning System.

The UK is leading the way by using generic definitions to ban groups of similar compounds to ensure we keep pace with the fast moving marketplace for these drugs.

The council has today (Tuesday 10 June) published reports on tryptamines and AH-7921, which will now be considered by the Home Office.


A number of tryptamines are already controlled under legislation, but the ACMD is recommending the definition is widened to include new hallucinogenic drugs in the same group. These include AMT, which led to the death of a Southampton teenager last year, and 5-MeO-DALT, also known as “rockstar”, “green-beans”, “5-MED” and “Jungles”. Both of these drugs have become widely available in the UK.

These drugs are strong hallucinogens which act in the same way as LSD.


Sometimes referred to as “legal heroin”, this synthetic opiate is sold online as a “research chemical” and predominantly comes in powder form. In August last year, Jason Nock, 41, died after overdosing on AH-7921, which he bought on the internet to help him sleep. The ACMD recommends AH-7921 and the tryptamine drugs covered by the generic definition in its report are all controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 as Class A substances. As none of these substances have any known legitimate medical use, the council recommends they are scheduled under Schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001.

Published 10 June 2014