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  1. How dangerous synthetic cannabis became Britain's most popular new legal high

    31 May 2014
    Other news

    The influx of legal, synthetic forms of cannabis that can be more potent and dangerous than the natural, illegal drug exposes Britain's "utterly ridiculous" cannabis laws. "

  2. generic-legislation-nps

    Generic legislation of new psychoactive drugs

    • Jan van Amsterdam, David Nutt, Wim van den Brink
    28 February 2013

    New psychoactive drugs (NPDs, new psychoactive substances) enter the market all the time. However, it takes several months to ban these NPDs and immediate action is generally not possible. Several European countries and drug enforcement officers insist on a faster procedure to ban NPDs. Introduction of generic legislation, in which clusters of psychotropic drugs are banned in advance, has been mentioned as a possible solution. Here we discuss the pros and cons of such an approach.

  3. towards-a-safer-drug-policy

    Towards a Safer Drug Policy

    14 January 2013

     For forty years the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 has formed the corner stone of drug policy in Britain. The emergence of new psychoactive substances (‘legal highs’) during the past fifteen years or so has challenged the drug control system. The arrival in 2012 of a new psychoactive substance on the market, on average, every six days raises questions about how best to protect young people from unknown and unsafe drugs. The Government is considering this challenge and we hope this Inquiry report will make a helpful contribution to their deliberations.

  4. Expert Seminar on Herbal Stimulants and Legal Highs

    30 October 2011
    A grey area has emerged between what is legal and what is not as states struggle with how to respond to the many new synthetic compounds emerging onto the market. Of the various types of ‘Legal highs’ the seminar focused on stimulants because of the parallels with the other main drug-policy issue of the moment; i.e. the status of traditional herbal stimulants. These older discussions have been reinvigorated by: Bolivia’s efforts to de-schedule coca-leaf at UN level; the debates on the status of khat between EU States, and of kratom across Asia; and the increasing stride of legitimate cannabis use on the domestic front, as in for example Spain.
  5. 'Legal highs'

    • Adam Winstock, Chris Wilkins
    21 October 2011

    This paper aims to set out some of the policy and public health issues raised by the appearance of a wide range of emergent psychoactive substances of diverse origin, effect and risk profile (commonly referred to as ‘legal highs’). It will start by considering what is meant by the term ‘legal highs’ and consider the historical context that has framed their appearance and must inform any response. It will then consider some of the approaches that have been adopted by different nations to control their availability and associated harms, including a preliminary assessment of their consequences, both intended and not.

  6. Taking Drugs Seriously

    • Jonathan Birdwell, Jake Chapman, Nicola Singleton
    17 May 2011

    Since first coming to public prominence at the end of 2009, legal highs have posed a major challenge to existing legal and legislative structures designed to deal with drugs. With the market in manufactured psychoactive substances like mephedrone moving faster than public policy can accommodate, this report asks whether the assumptions enshrined in the 40-year-old Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) are still valid when applied 21st century drugs market.

     

  7. Options for regulating new psychoactive drugs

    • Peter Reuter (RAND)
    01 May 2011
    This paper is intended to provide the basis for a discussion of policy options in dealing with new psychoactive substances that show signs of popularity and of harmfulness within a wider project being undertaken by the UK Drug Policy Commission and Demos, the outcomes of which are presented in Taking Drugs Seriously: a Demos and UK Drug Policy Commission report on legal highs (Birdwell et al., 2011).
  8. East African discourses on khat and sex

    • Susan Beckerleg
    01 September 2010
    The study aims to review and analyse the varied East African discourses on the effects of khat use on libido, fertility, transmission of HIV, prostitution and rape. Khat is associated, by consumers and its detractors alike, with changes in libido and sexual performance. Although there is no evidence to support their claims, detractors of khat use argue that khat causes sexual violence, causes women to enter sex work, and that chewing causes the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including the HIV virus.
  9. A good chew or good riddance

    • Pien Metaal, Axel Klein
    15 July 2010
    The article reviews the status of khat, the most recent plant based psychoactive substance to reach a global market, and considers policy making processes in general and the framework of drug control in particular. The risk assessment and classification of psychoactive drugs is a contested arena where political, economic and moral agendas collide, leaving countries that have banned khat, with significant social costs. To best manage the risks arising from the increasing availability of khat it is therefore suggested to draft a regulatory framework with clear objectives and guiding principles.
  10. The changing use and misuse of khat

    • Michael Odenwald, Nasir Warfa, Axel Klein (eds.)
    07 May 2010
    Within the last decade the hitherto little known psychoactive substance of khat has emerged as a regional and international issue. In the Horn of Africa khat production has spurred an economic boom, but dramatic increases in consumption have raised public health concerns. Given the complexity of the topic spanning multiple academic disciplines and fields of professional practice, the need for a systematic overview is urgent.
  11. khat_axel_klein

    Regulating khat

    • Axel Klein, Susan Beckerleg, Degol Hailu
    01 November 2009

    The regulation of khat, one of the most recent psychoactive drugs to become a globally traded commodity, remains hotly contested within different producer and consumer countries. As regimes vary, it has been possible to compare khat policies in Africa, Europe and North America from different disciplinary perspectives. The research established the significance of khat for rural producers, regional economies, as a tax base and source of foreign exchange. At the same time, khat as a psychoactive substance is associated with health and public safety problems that in turn are met with often ill-informed legislative responses. Bans have in turn lead to the criminalisation of users and sellers and illegal drug markets.

    Download the publication (PDF)

  12. Legal Responses to New Psychoactive Substances in Europe

    • Brendan Hughes, T Blidaru
    19 February 2009

    This paper starts from the premise that, when a new psychoactive substance appears on the licit/illicit market in a country in Europe, legislators need to choose whether to bring it under control of the drug laws, and for public health reasons they may need to do so quickly. A comparative study of the systems and procedures finds that there are a variety of control methods available in the different countries, including the analogue and generic systems, as well as temporary emergency and rapid permanent scheduling procedures.