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Queen's Speech 2015: 'Legal Highs' Banned Under New Bill Covering 'New Generation Of Psychoactive Drugs'

27/05/2015 12:06 | Updated 27 May 2015

The Queen has announced the government's plan to ban so-called 'legal highs', the new wave of untested recreational drugs springing up in the UK.

A new Bill announced by Her Majesty in The Queen's Speech 2015 will ban the drugs popularly known as "legal highs", with a blanket ban on anyone producing or supplying them.

At the state opening of Parliament today, The Queen said that new legislation would "ban the new generation of psychoactive drugs".

legal highs

'Legal highs' have boomed in popularity

queen

The Queen arriving at the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday

The complete ban on what are known as new psychoactive substances (NPS) would mean that selling newly-created or newly-used drugs that can cause effects in mood, perception or consciousness would be illegal, with a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment.

The Centre For Social Justice found last year that there were 97 deaths caused by 'legal highs' in 2012.

The bill aims to disrupt the supply of new drugs, which are being rapidly created at a rate so fast that the government has struggled to control them and assess them for safety.

Under the bill, police would have the power to seize and destroy NPSs, to search people, homes and vehicles for them, and to use a search warrant if necessary.

Alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, food and medical products would be excluded from the offence, as would controlled drugs like ecstasy and cannabis, which remain illegal.

The new laws aim to tackle the supply of NPSs, and - following the recommendations of a panel on legal highs last year - having NPSs for your own personal possession will remain legal.

The Bill's purpose is to "protect hard-working citizens from the risks posed by untested, unknown and potentially harmful drugs" according to the Home Office.

The new laws would add to the existing Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

The laws could lead see the closure of around 250 shops which sell them, Mixmag reported.

As well as a prison sentence, the Bill also allows for more lenient civil punishments for supplying or intending to supply NPSs, such a prohibition notices, which it would be a crime to break.

The devolved Scottish government and the National Assembly for Wales have published their own reports, also calling for a blanket ban.

A group of more than 20 music festivals banned the sale of 'legal highs' in 2014, over safety concerns.

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Measures to ban rises in income tax, VAT or national insurance over the next five years were also in the speech, the first Conservative-only Queen's Speech in almost two decades.

David Cameron said the "One Nation" package was a "clear programme for working people, social justice and bringing our country together", which would deliver full employment, extend the right to buy to housing association tenants, increase free childcare and create a "truly seven-day NHS".

The agenda announced to MPs and peers by the Queen also includes historic legislation to pave the way for an in/out referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union by the end of 2017, and a legal requirement for anyone working 30 hours a week or less on the minimum wage to be taken out of income tax altogether.

Further devolution is promised for Scotland and Wales, and measures will be introduced to give English MPs the final say on legislation affecting only England at Westminster.

But Cameron has ducked potential confrontation with senior backbenchers by omitting legislation to scrap the Human Rights Act (HRA). Instead, the Government will bring forward proposals for a British Bill of Rights to replace the HRA, with legislation expected following consultation later in the parliament.

The packed agenda of 26 bills - plus one in draft form - aims to enact many of the promises made by Conservatives during the general election campaign, and Mr Cameron made no secret of the fact that the absolute majority secured on May 7 allows him to press ahead with Tory measures previously blocked by the Liberal Democrats.

QUEEN'S SPEECH 2015

Queen's Speech
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