Press release

New power and protocol aid the fight against 'legal highs'

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

New power to temporarily control potentially harmful new drugs comes into effect, along with an importation ban on two further substances.

A new power to temporarily control potentially harmful new drugs came into effect today, Tuesday 15 November, along with an importation ban on two substances closely linked to chemicals found in ‘legal high’ brand ‘Ivory Wave’.

Today’s importation ban covers diphenylprolinol (D2PM) and diphenylmethyl-pyrrolidine, and took effect at 00.01.  It means the UK Border Agency will have the power to seize and destroy any shipments of the substances at UK borders.

The temporary control power, introduced through the police reform and social responsibility act 2011, gives the Home Secretary the authority to place an instant ban on any substance deemed potentially harmful while the advisory council on the misuse of drugs (ACMD) provides more detailed advice to government.

The moves came as the government and independent advisers signed up to a new working protocol.  This agreement between the Home Office and the ACMD highlights three key areas: how the government engages with the ACMD, the expertise and membership of the council and the advisory process to use the temporary control power with emphasis on ‘legal highs’.

Lord Henley Home Office Minister for Crime Prevention and Antisocial Behaviour Reduction said:

‘High quality scientific advice is vital to the government’s drugs policy. Today’s publication of the working protocol underlines our shared commitment to ensuring that the best evidence-based advice is available to government on drug misuse, working together with the common purpose of tackling drug-related harms in the UK.

‘The UK is leading the way in cracking down on ‘legal highs’ by outlawing not just individual drugs, but whole families of related substances that have the potential to cause harm.

‘The temporary control power will allow government to respond quickly and effectively to the changing threat posed by drugs and in particular the emerging menace of so called ‘legal highs’.’

Notes to editors

1. The Home Office has also signalled today that it will add two anabolic steroids to the misuse of drugs act 1971, following advice from the ACMD after its consideration of the world anti doping agency prohibited list 2011 (and the provisional 2012 list). The council has said that the harms of 7-hydroxydehydroepiandrosterone (7-hydroxyDHEA) and 7-keto-dehydroepiandrosterone (7-keto DHEA) are similar to other class C anabolic steroids, and therefore should also be banned. The two steroids are expected to be added to the 1971 act in the new year.

2. For a copy of the working protocol, visit A copy of the working protocol has been deposited in the parliament libraries today in accordance with a previous commitment by ministers.

3. ACMD is an independent expert body that advises government on drug-related issues in the UK.

4. The council makes recommendations to government on the control of dangerous or otherwise harmful drugs, including classification and scheduling under the misuse of drugs act 1971 and its regulations. It considers any substance which is being or appears to be misused and of which is having or appears to be capable of having harmful effects sufficient to cause a social problem.

5. It also carries out in-depth inquiries into aspects of drug use that are causing particular concern in the UK, with the aim of producing considered reports that will be helpful to policy makers and practitioners. See the ACMD publications.

6. The ACMD was established under the misuse of drugs act 1971.

7. For further information please contact the Home Office press office on 020 7035 3535.