As such, a person involved in the production or supply of psychoactive substances could be put behind bars for up to 7 years.
According to critics, the new legislation could drive the drugs underground into the hands of criminals and make their consumption extremely dangerous.
The new law vests a great deal of power on the police to search people, vehicles, and premises and seize and destroy psychoactive substances.
However, possession of drugs by individuals will not be treated as a criminal offense.
The spokesperson for Transform, a drugs think-tank, reportedly told The Guardian that politicians may claim laurels for ending shop sales of these drugs, but their online and street sales would increase and pose even more health risks.
What Are They and How Dangerous Are They
Legal highs are substances that cause the same effects as illegal drugs like cocaine, speed, and ecstasy.
However, they don’t come under the purview of anti-drug laws.
Prior to the enforcement of the new legislation, they were not covered by the Misuse of Drugs Act (1971).
This meant that these substances could be sold on high streets all over the UK or on websites in an open manner.
Legal highs cannot be sold, if they are not safe for human consumption.
However, a legal loophole allowed their sale disguised as bath salts or plant food.
One out of every five legal highs contains an illegal substance.
This makes their name a little bit misleading.
The reactions caused by legal highs cannot be predicted because they are never tested to ensure that they are suitable for human consumption.
If they are mixed with alcohol or other substances, the risks are higher and include seizures, heart problems, brain damage and mental health issues.
According to data released by National Statistics Office, as many as 76 deaths over the last decade have been linked to legal highs.
The New Legislation on Legal Highs
In the past, a substance-by-substance approach was adopted to regulate legal highs.
Substances such as meow meow (mephedrone), GBL and BZP were banned.
However, new versions were introduced into the market even before the government could prohibit them.
All substances, meant for human consumption, capable of causing psychoactive effect are covered by the new legislation.
As the new law enforces a blanket ban on all of the legal highs, alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco have been apparently exempted.
Karen Bradley, Home Office minister, said that legal highs are not legal, as per the new legislation, and they are not safe.
Therefore, the sale of such substances would not be allowed in the country.
However, some politicians, health professionals, the police, and government advisors have widely criticized the new legislation.
They are of the opinion that the blanket ban could lead to an increase in criminal offenses and deaths.
The New Scientist termed it as one of the most stupid, dangerous and unscientific legislations to have ever been conceived.
Edmund Smyth, a criminal lawyer, expressed doubt as regards the ability of the police department to enforce the law effectively as its resources have already been stretched.
According to him, it could also lead to unintended consequences.