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'Legal highs' prevalence makes ban policy 'ridiculous'

From Guardian News (UK):

New "legal highs" are being discovered at the rate of one a week, outstripping attempts to control their availability and exposing what some experts claim is the "ridiculous and irrational" government policy of prohibition.

Officials monitoring the European drugs market identified 20 new synthetic psychoactive substances in the first four months of this year, according to Paolo Deluca, co-principal investigator at the Psychonaut Research Project, an EU-funded organisation based at King's College London, which studies trends in drug use. He said officials at the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), an early-warning unit, had detected 20 new substances for sale by May this year. In 2010 the agency had noted 41 new psychoactive substances, a record number, many of which were synthetic cathinone derivatives that can imitate the effects of cocaine, ecstasy or amphetamines.

Deluca said that, given the plethora of new substances, the government's attempts to ban legal highs is not a "feasible" solution. "It's also becoming very difficult to know exactly how many new compounds there are, because you have all these brand names and when you test the batch they are different from the following one." The UK, according to his reasearch, remains Europe's largest market for legal highs and synthetic compounds.

The EMCDDA favours generic bans that would cover entire groups of structurally related synthetic compounds, or chemical families, therefore removing the need to ban individual substances as they appear on the market. Deluca said: "It is impossible to implement a ban for every single new compound."
Posted: 9/6/2011 9:36:00 AM

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