Today brings the Queen's Speech and with it comes the possibility of a total ban on so-called legal highs.
The chemical compounds have taken up much of the media's time over the last few years, with substances like GBL and 'Spice' becoming popular, though potentially highly dangerous, alternatives to amphetamines and cannabis. As a whole, they are not covered under the Misuse of Drugs Act, while individual drugs have been added over the last few years, such as mephedrone.
The ban, which comes after the Local Government Association last week urged ministers to crack down on the proliferation of the potentially lethal substances, will primarily target the 250-or-so head shops in the UK, which sell legal highs alongside drug paraphernalia and other drug-related wares.
Currently when a particular substance is banned, it has its chemical composition tweaked to create a new loophole-legal drug. The Home Office-led blanket ban attempts to remedy the ease at which new substances can reach market. Manufacturers will have to prove that their creations are fit for human consumption.
While physical head shop outlets are being targeted, ministers will have to struggle with the tricky world of censoring the massive online market in legal highs, where bulk amounts can be ordered from suppliers in China and elsewhere. The ban could also potentially transfer the trade of these drugs to the hands of street dealers, who are not the most trustworthy breed of people, to say the least.
A 2014 report by the Home Office noted that there was "no obvious link" between tougher laws and levels of drug use, which somewhat negates this new direction. So while this ban may sound good in theory, it will be a difficult law to enact.
Top image credit: Herbal Eye