Twelve month bans on suspected substances will help the government react quickly to the changing drugs market says James Brokenshire.
Temporary bans will send a clear message to users that they carry a risk and will prevent new chemicals becoming widely available, said the government today.
New legislation will see suspected substances being identified by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs after conducting a comprehensive review of the harms. It will then advise on whether it should be banned permanently.
Drug experts have their say
The government has also published a consultation on the new drug strategy. It asks experts for their views on a range of issues including whether we should strengthen the link between benefits, and drug and alcohol use, so that users are strongly encouraged to address their dependency.
The consultation sets out the key themes of the its vision for drugs policy - which includes preventing drug taking, disrupting supply, strengthening enforcement, and promoting treatment.
It offers an opportunity for experts, charities and law enforcement agencies to help inform the new strategy, which will be launched before the end of the year.
Police will seize substances
During the temporary ban period, police can confiscate suspected substances, and the UK Border Agency can seize shipments entering the country.
The penalty for supply will be a maximum of 14 years in prison and an unlimited fine.
However, possession of a temporarily banned substance for personal use would not be a criminal offence.
Act more quickly
Minister for crime prevention James Brokenshire said: ‘The drugs market is changing and we need to adapt current laws to allow us to act more quickly.
‘The temporary ban allows us to act straight away to stop new substances gaining a foothold in the market and help us tackle unscrupulous drug dealers trying to get round the law by peddling dangerous chemicals to young people.
‘However, anyone tempted to try a legal high must understand it is not safe or sensible to take a substance when you do not know what it is or what is in it - especially when some are claimed to be pond cleaner or bath salts.’