Dance drug mephedrone will be banned within weeks, Home Secretary Alan Johnson announced today.
The legal high, which has been linked to up to 25 deaths in England and Scotland, will be banned and made a Class B drug, he said. A ban on importing the drug will come into force today.
The announcement came after Mr Johnson was given a report backing a ban on mephedrone - also known as M-Cat or Plant Food - from Professor Les Iversen, chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.
Speaking at the Home Office after talks with Prof Iversen, Mr Johnson said he had accepted the council's advice.
The ban will cover not just mephedrone but all similar substances in a group called cathinones, he said.
It is likely to come into force by the end of April, he said.
"As a result of the council's swift advice, I am introducing legislation to ban not just mephedrone and other cathinones but also to enshrine in law a generic definition so that, as with synthetic cannabinoids, we can be in the forefront of dealing with this whole family of drugs," he said.
"This will stop unscrupulous manufacturers and others peddling different but similarly harmful drugs.
"My department will lay the necessary Order in Parliament tomorrow.
"I am seeking cross-party support to swiftly ban these dangerous drugs from our streets.
"Parliament permitting, I hope to do this in a matter of weeks.
"In the meantime, I have today banned the importation of mephedrone, other cathinones, and all products containing these drugs with immediate effect.
"The Government is determined to crack down on these so-called legal highs and we must all play a part in ensuring children and young people know about their dangers."
The ban was welcomed by Scottish Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing, who has twice written to the Home Office raising the SNP Government's concerns over "legal highs".
Mr Ewing said: "It is essential that people are aware of the very real dangers from mephedrone and similar so-called legal highs.
"I promise to work with the UK Government to act as quickly as possible to ensure that the ban will be enforced across Scotland.
"We need to work together to dispel the myth that these so-called legal highs are safe. They pose a real danger to the health of people across Scotland."Reuse content