From tomorrow you could get seven years in jail for dealing laughing gas
What will people do in the Stone Circle
Tonight, at midnight, the Psychoactive Substances Bill is coming for legal highs.
Technically, it’s coming for “psychoactive substances”. The act clarifies as follows: “For the purposes of this Act a substance produces a psychoactive effect in a person if, by stimulating or depressing the person’s central nervous system, it affects the person’s mental functioning or emotional state”. As many people have pointed out, this could also mean caffeine, or alcohol.
These have been excluded though (as have nicotine and poppers). In reality, though, the act bans legal highs: like Spice, or laughing gas.
Offenders could face up to seven years in jail, and the Act gives police powers to close down headshops and pursue online dealers. They can seize psychoactive substances and destroy them; they can search people, premises and vehicles. In reality, it’ll likely be pretty hard to do anything to tackle delivery boys or curb online sales.
Most sensible people also observe that banning the substances will likely create a subterranean dark market and make some of them even more dangerous. This week, nine people in Rochdale were taken seriously ill after taking Annihilation and Cherry Bombs. This is no laughing matter.
What is a laughing matter, though, is specific guidelines that deal with laughing gas canisters. The Home Office has some advice for vendors dealing with customers who want to buy whipped cream, that reads a little like an esoteric SATs Maths test.
The guidance discriminates against students, and young people – many shops are warned to be cautious about selling to “student university halls of residence”.
The Home Office admits there are limitations to the legislation and the terms in which it is couched. “It may be difficult for conventional retailers to know if a substance is affected by the Act or not,” it offers. But instead of taking a robust look at drugs legislation it’s passed something unclear, fallible and useless. Next move.