[Insight] New psychoactive substances in prisons: high and getting higher

Research paper by Tony Kirby

Indexed on: 05 Aug '16Published on: 01 Aug '16Published in: The Lancet Psychiatry


On May 25, 2016, the UK Government introduced a nationwide automatic ban on substances referred to as legal highs or new psychoactive substances (NPS), which includes a wide range of already well-known substances (such as synthetic cannabis or “spice” and nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas). The new laws—that criminalise the production, distribution, sale, and supply of NPS—automatically ban “in advance” any NPS. The UK government decided that, because it is impractical to introduce separate bans for every new psychoactive drug that enters the markets (with thousands of potential bans), the new law effectively bans everything that can be called a psychoactive substance.