AMs Debate Banning "Legal Highs"

The Welsh Government says it’s working to raise awareness about so-called “legal highs”.

AM's have been debating on whether we should follow Ireland and ban the sale of them in Wales.

A report from the National Assembly’s Health and Social Care Committee is also calling for better treatment services, as may who use them don’t think they need the same help as those taking illegal substances.

Chair of the Committee, David Rees AM, says they can be as dangerous as heroin:

“60 people a year have been dying as a result of New Psychoactive Substances.

“Sometimes they’re far more powerful than banned drugs.

“They can hospitalise people and people have fearful experiences with them.

“The consequences are very severe but we haven’t been able to assess the long term implications because they’re new types of drugs.”

All 14 recommendations set out in the report have been accepted by the Welsh Government.

Deputy Health Minister Vaughan Gething said NPS are becoming a problem:

“Substance misuse is a major health issue which affects individuals, families and communities across Wales.

“We have witnessed a gradual change in drugs use over the last five years. Demand for traditional illicit drugs, such as heroin, is on the decline and the demand for new psychoactive substances has increased substantially over this time.

“Services, commissioners and policy makers have had to adapt to keep up with this fast-changing landscape. This is not easy to do, because as soon as you get to grips with one substance, a new one with a slightly different chemical structure is there to take its place.”

He added:

“The legislation and classification of drugs is a matter reserved to the UK Government and this is an area where we can see merit in having a UK-wide system for drug classification.

“However, we are keen to ensure that the UK Government responds with greater agility. Following the publication of the Home Office expert review panel’s report on the misuse of drugs in October 2014, the Minister for Health and Social Services wrote to the Home Office to push for a speedy UK legislative response to ensure law enforcement agencies have the best available powers, sending out the clearest possible message that the trade in these substances is reckless and these substances can be dangerous to health - even fatal.”