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'Legal highs' become illegal

21 December 2009

Possessing or using so-called ‘legal highs’ is now illegal in Jersey following a decision by the Health Minister.

‘Legal highs’ had previously been marketed as a safe alternative to drugs like cannabis and ecstasy. However, there is now evidence that chemicals like BZP and mephedrone have similar side effects to the drugs they mimic.

Following the advice of Jersey’s Misuse of Drugs Advisory Council, an order from the Health Minister, Deputy Anne Pryke, has come into force bringing the chemicals in ‘legal highs’ under the control of the Misuse of Drugs (Jersey) Law 1978.

Deputy Medical Officer of Health, Dr Susan Turnbull, said: “I’m pleased with the decision to make the use and possession of ‘legal highs’ illegal. These are dangerous substances with very serious side effects. Only last month, mephedrone was implicated in the death of a 14 year old girl in the UK.

“The only safe way to avoid falling foul of the law is not to possess or use any of these substances. No reliance can be placed on any ingredients lists on products and without access to chemical analysis, it would be impossible to know whether or not products contain banned chemicals.”

Importing or selling ‘legal highs’ in Jersey has been illegal since October 2008 as the components of these drugs were classified as medicines under the Island’s Medicines Law.

The newly controlled substances have been classified according to the effects of the illegal drugs they mimic:
• Synthetic cannabinoids (Class B) – effects similar to cannabis
• Benzylpiperazine (BZP) and related compounds (Class C) – effects similar to ecstasy or amphetamines
• Cathinones (including butylone, methylone and mephedrone) (Class C) – range of effects similar mainly to amphetamines

All the newly illegal chemicals are listed in the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment of Schedule 2 to Law) (Jersey) Order 2009.
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