1. ITV Report

Blanket ban on 'legal highs' delayed

A blanket ban on 'legal highs' has been delayed Credit: REUTERS/Olivia Harris

A government crackdown on drugs that would have seen a blanket ban put on 'legal highs' has been delayed as it is still unclear what is covered.

The Psychoactive Substances Act was due to be enforced as of April 6 but officials have now confirmed the start date has now been pushed back until May.

Home Office Minister Karen Bradley said the act was now expected to come into action in its entirety in the spring "to ensure the readiness of all the activity necessary to enable the smooth implementation of the legislation across the UK".

  • What is the Psychoactive Substances Act?

The Psychoactive Substances Act is a blanket ban on the production, distribution, sale and supply of "designer drugs".

According to the act psychoactive substances are considered consumed if "the person causes or allows the substance, or fumes given off by the substance, to enter the person’s body in any way".

'Headshops' face closure when the Act is enforced Credit: Niall Carson/PA
  • What is covered?

In short this isn't clear and there is not a list of all the drugs covered by the ban.

According to the wording of the act a “psychoactive substance” is anything producing a psychoactive effect in a person by "stimulating or depressing the person’s central nervous system affecting the person’s mental functioning or emotional state".

But the Home Office says the Government is still in the final stages of putting in place "a programme of testing to demonstrate a substance's psychoactivity" prior to commencement of the Act.

Last week it was confirmed poppers will not be banned in the crackdown.

  • What are the implications?

Sellers who are found to have supplied psychoactive substances could face up to seven years in prison after the act officially comes into force.

  • What is the new start date for enforcement?

The latest announcement suggests the act will not come into force until the spring.

As Parliament needs to be given at least 21 days' notice before it starts, and as Parliament is currently in recess, May 1 looks like the earliest possible date for the law to come into force.