Today the Home Office released a review of its 2016 Psychoactive Substances Act (PSA) which introduced a blanket ban on the production, distribution, sale and supply of most psychoactive substances including former ‘legal highs’.
The review admits the PSA has failed to meet many of its goals - as predicted by experts:
While high street ‘Head Shop’ sales have stopped, the trade has just shifted to street dealers
The ‘cat and mouse’ game of new drugs coming onto the market as others are banned has continued
Use among children and the homeless have not fallen, and the review cannot say if overall drug use has fallen because even where adult use has reduced, people may have shifted to other banned substances instead
In prisons, use of synthetic cannabinoids (‘Spice’) in particular has increased while deaths directly attributable to NPS appear to have fallen in England and Wales, they have risen in Scotland
The review cannot tell if overall social and health harms have fallen because people may have just moved to other drugs - where deaths, for example from cocaine and MDMA use, have been rising sharply