The purpose of this paper is to review the ongoing failure of contemporary government, and indeed its agencies, to provide basic, let alone adequate, factual information about most chemical legal highs, despite permitting their unregulated sale, and having the resources to do so.
The paper provides a working definition of legal highs, briefly describes how the market works, investigates government information services such as Talk to FRANK, analyse government policy towards legal highs, and finally posit cost effective interim solutions to fill the information gap for “Generation Meph”, the teenagers and students who are the main consumers of legal highs.
Despite permitting synthetic research chemicals to be sold as any other consumer product, the government consistently fails to provide meaningful information about them and instead emulates the tabloids by adopting a policy of covert quasi‐criminalisation through non‐approval. This raises questions not simply about government competence, but also the suitability of the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act, and indeed the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, 40 years on. It is preferable that “Generation Meph” have access to some form of evidence‐based information about what they consume rather than to none.
The paper suggests a survey system to provide consumers with information about legal highs, which would counterbalance the scaremongering among the tabloid press.
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