HOME SECRETARY Theresa May is facing a battle with MPs over plans to outlaw ‘legal highs’.
An influential group of MPs has raised questions about the #Government’s plans to outlaw the so-called ‘legal high’ drugs. In particular, they said that ‘poppers’ – alkyl nitrite – that is popular with the gay community, should not be included in the list of compounds to be banned.
Following the General Election, Home Secretary Theresa May outlined plans to introduce a blanket ban on drugs that could induce changes in consciousness. This was in reaction to previous bans that affected individual drugs, but new ones appeared so quickly that legislation lagged behind. Instead, she proposed a blanket ban on mood-altering substances.
However, critics pointed out that this could mean any substance that induced a change of mood could be outlawed. Critics said that alcohol, coffee and even the incense used in church services could fall foul of the law.
The legislation has already been introduced to the House of Commons and is due to start its committee stage. But now the Home Affairs Select Committee has warned that the Bill has been rushed through without adequate consultation on the details.
Quoting Prof Les Iversen of the Government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, they argue that poppers were not of such as threat to society as to justify a ban.
The committee, chaired by Keith Vaz MP, also questioned the term ‘legal high’ as it suggested that they were legal and had a desirable effect. The term encouraged people to try them, but with something disastrous consequences.
They also point out that legislation will still lag behind use as the sale of them is moving increasingly online and beyond the reach of the authorities.
Keith Vaz said it was right to legislate on the issue as the UK saw greater use of such drugs than anywhere else in Europe and there was a danger that society would be ‘overwhelmed’ by the problem.
However, he said the legislation was ‘piecemeal’ and was being rushed through #Parliament. And he accused the Home Secretary of not listening to the advice from the Government’s own advisory council.
It is the latest run-in between the ACMD and a Home Secretary. In 2009 Prof Dominic Nutt was relieved of his position after accusing the then Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, of ignoring advice on downgrading ecstasy, which he claimed was not of sufficient danger as to be classified as a Class A drug. Her successor, Alan Johnson, removed Prof Nutt from his post.