Published: 08 April 2016
NOTE: The Psychoactive Substances Act was due to come into force on 6th April 2016 but the Home Office has confirmed that the Act’s implementation date has been pushed back to later in the year.
Q: I have seen many news articles lately regarding ‘legal highs’ and whilst I have never sold such items on my premises I am concerned what is the best course of action if I discover anyone using them.
A: You are right to be concerned as the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 comes into force this April and introduces a number of offences relating to ‘legal highs’. Unfortunately it may be difficult to identify particular offending products although the definition of a ‘psychoactive substance’ is particularly wide. If in doubt, a best practice approach would be to prevent any potentially offending products from being used on your premises and you should ensure that staff members remain vigilant. Prohibited activities include the supply of substances, possession with intent to supply and assisting or encouraging such an activity.
If an enforcement officer believes that prohibited activities are being or are likely to be carried on at particular premises, a Premises Notice can be issued and subsequent failure to comply with a notice could result in the issue of a Premises Order. If you are found to be in breach of an Order without taking reasonable steps to prevent the offence you could be subject to a penalty of a term of imprisonment not exceeding 12 months and/or a fine. Directors and Companies may also be guilty of an offence if it is attributable to neglect on the part of such a person. Nicotine and alcohol products not containing psychoactive substances are exempt from the Act. To ensure that best practice is maintained you should include ‘legal highs’ within a zero tolerance drug policy and ensure that all staff members receive regular training on its enforcement.
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