UK
28/11/2013 06:53 GMT | Updated 28/01/2014 05:59 GMT

'Legal High' NBOMe Should Be Banned Permanently, Drug Advisers Warn

A former "legal high" should be banned permanently as a class A substance, the Government's official drug advisers have said, meaning dealers could face up to life in prison.

NBOMe, known on the street as N-Bomb and Smiley Paper, was subjected to a temporary ban in June, making it illegal for at least 12 months, while further evidence on its impact was gathered.

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Large amounts of NBOMe have already arrived in the UK for distribution in blotter and powder form

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N-Bomb is described by the drugs charity Frank as being similar to LSD and "a powerful hallucinogen, which means it changes the way you see objects and reality."

Its effects, which can last six to 10 hours, include euphoria and feelings of love but also confusion, shaking, nausea, insomnia and paranoia, the ACMD said.

Surrey Police reported the death of an 18-year old man in February, which is thought to be related to NBOMe although this is awaiting confirmation, while Avon and Somerset Police have reported a death where a 22-year old man drowned after taking the drug.

The substance has also been implicated in several deaths in the US and Australia.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) has recommended that compounds of the drug, seen as an alternative to the hallucinogen LSD, are controlled as class A substances - the most serious category with possession punishable by a jail term of up to seven years.

In addition, the ACMD has recommended that another former legal high subjected to a temporary ban, BenzoFury, once marketed as a legal form of ecstasy, is controlled as a class B substance.

Earlier this year, seven intoxication cases linked to the drug were identified in hospitals across the north east of England, including two patients who needed intensive care.

The legal highs industry has been steadily growing in Britain, with the number of shops estimated to be over 250, while the country is seen as an 'international hub' for buyers online.

Evidence from the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), which was recently taken into the new National Crime Agency (NCA), suggests large amounts of NBOMe have already arrived in the UK for distribution in blotter and powder form.

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HuffPostUK tracked down the founder of the legal highs website "Chems 'R' Us", who warned that banning the substances would only make things worse.

"The worst thing about banning a legal high is that it will cause more harm to young people, since it will not stop them using a chemical at a party or a social event. Neither will it stop laboratories in China producing more legal novel companies and companies in the West selling them," the man, identified only as 'Midas', said.

"With new chemicals of which nothing is known about coming onto the market as a result of recent bans and the formerly legal chemicals ending up on the black market at festivals, the government couldn't have been more wrong and this year's festival season will prove if this is the case."