'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."

Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
musicKate Bush asks fans not to take photos at London gigs
News
i100
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
O'Toole as Cornelius Gallus in ‘Katherine of Alexandria’
filmSadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Life and Style
fashion
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

    Quantitative Developer

    £700 per day: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Developer C++, Python, STL, R, PD...

    Web developer (C#, MVC4, HTML5, CSS3, Javascript, Jquery)

    £30000 - £44000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Web deve...

    Senior Automation QA Engineer (Java, Selenium WebDriver, Agile)

    £40000 - £65000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Senior A...

    Web developer (C#.NET, ASP.NET, MVC3/4, HTML5, CSS3, JAVASCRIPT

    £35000 - £45000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Web deve...

    Day In a Page

    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

    Beyond a joke

    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

    A wild night out

    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

    It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
    Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

    Besiktas vs Arsenal

    Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

    The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

    Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment