New psychoactive substances

New psychoactive substances (NPS) have become a particular concern in recent years with increasing supply and demand.

Although sometimes referred to as 'legal highs', they frequently contain substances that are not legal and cannot be assumed to be safe. The availability of these substances over the internet has radically changed the nature of the drugs market.

This government is determined to protect the public from the harms these new psychoactive substances (NPS) can cause. We have:

  • developed an NPS action plan as part of our annual review of the drug strategy 2010. It sets out in more detail the government's approach to tackling the threat from emerging substances, in line with the ambitions of the drug strategy
  • introduced the power to invoke a temporary class drug order on a substance which is raising sufficient concern for up to 12 months, on consideration of initial advice from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, while full expert advice is being prepared
  • responded to the recommendations in the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs report on NPS, published in October 2011. See letter from the Home Secretary to Professor Les Iversen.
  • implemented a forensic early warning system (FEWS), which detects new psychoactive substances in the UK. The FEWS annual report describes the activities undertaken by FEWS and provides results on the analysis of samples tested during the period of January 2011 to March 2012.
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