Legal Highs

02 March 2010

As part of the government’s commitment to tackle the emerging threat of so-called 'legal highs', the substances now banned under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 include:

  • chemical solvent GBL (gamma-butyrolactone) and a similar chemical – which are converted in to GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) in the body and often used as ‘club drugs’ – are now controlled as Class C drugs when intended for human ingestion
  • synthetic cannabinoids – man-made chemicals sprayed on herbal smoking products such as ‘Spice’, which act on the body in a similar way to cannabis but can be far more potent, are now controlled as Class B drugs alongside cannabis
  • BZP (benzylpiperazine) and related piperazines, which are stimulants, similar to amphetamine, are now controlled as Class C drugs
  • 15 anabolic steroids, testosterone-like products often used by sports people and increasingly being used by the general public for their growth promoting properties are to be controlled as Class C drugs, alongside two growth promoters


The maximum penalty for supply, production and trafficking of these Class B and C drugs is 14 years imprisonment.

Penalties for possession: The maximum penalty for possession of a Class B drug is five years imprisonment. The maximum penalty for possession of a Class C drug is two years imprisonment.


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