'Natural high drug should be banned'

A "herbal high" that mimics the effect of cannabis should be banned, the Government's drug adviser said today.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs said Spice could be more powerful than cannabis.

Pouches of the drug are widely available on the internet and in so-called "head shops" for around £20.

The council's chairman, Professor David Nutt, said although it was sold as a "natural" high, Spice was created using dangerous chemicals.

He said: "Spice and other synthetic cannabinoid products are being sold legally as harmless 'herbal legal highs'.

"However, the herbal content is coated in one or more dangerous chemical compounds that mimic the effects of cannabis.

"These are not harmless herbal alternatives and have been found to cause paranoia and panic attacks.

"That is why we are advising the Government to bring a large number of synthetic cannabinoids under the Misuse of Drugs Act."







Spice and other so-called "synthetic cannabinoids" escape existing drugs laws because they do not contain marijuana and are not chemically related to it.

But by spraying synthetic additives on to herbs, dealers can create similar intoxication in users to that caused by THC, the active ingredient in cannabis.

Analysis of samples of Spice show it has a "higher potency" than THC, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) warned.

It said Spice could be "more harmful" because of the quantity of chemicals in the drug is "unknown to the user".

Home Secretary Alan Johnson is expected to legislate later this year to ban Spice. It is likely to be made a class B drug, alongside cannabis.

A Home Office spokesman said: "We are determined to crack down on those so-called 'legal highs' that pose a significant health risk.

"To this end, earlier this year we asked the ACMD to look into the harms caused by so called 'legal highs' and recently received its advice on this group of man-made chemicals that act on the body in a similar way to cannabis.

"These have been recently found in herbal smoking products, including products sold under the brand name 'Spice'.

"We will publish our response shortly, along with the proposed controls for a range of other substances.

"We remain committed to tackling drug use in all its forms through tough enforcement, education and, where required, treatment. And it remains important that we continue to adapt our drug policy to tackle the changing environment in order to protect the public, especially our young people, from drug harms."









The review of legal highs was requested by former home secretary Jacqui Smith earlier this year and follows moves to ban Spice in Germany, Austria and France.

At around £20 for three grams of Spice - sold under brands such as Spice Silver, Spice Gold, Spice Diamond and Spice Yucatan Fire - prices are similar to cannabis.

The ACMD's report said herbs listed on the packets of the drug were often not found inside, but they did discover large amounts of Vitamin E used to hide other chemicals.

The council admitted there is little detailed information about the size of the Spice market but it is clearly "extensive" and distribution networks "well developed".

Reports from Germany suggested some users suffered heart problems after smoking the drug.

The ACMD's report stated: "Users cannot ... assume the same effects from the same product the next time they use it.

"Thus, there is potential for overdose should a person use a particularly strong batch or a synthetic cannabinoid with particularly high potency."

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

    £22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

    Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

    Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

    Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

    £70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions