Prohibition 2.0 The Psychoactive Substances Bill

It seems that the UK Government think the drug war is going so well they should extend it, by introducing a new piece of legislation, The Psychoactive Substances Bill.

 To answer the question of what to do about so-called "legal highs", the UK Government has introduced a bill, which would if passed, make any psychoactive substance not specifically exempt in the law illegal.


Definition of Psychoactive: Affecting the mind or behavior - Merriam-Webster Dictionary

By the text of the Psychoactive Substances Bill, any substance that "produces a psychoactive effect in a person if, by stimulating or depressing the person’s central nervous system, it affects the person’s mental functioning or emotional state...". Only a certain list of substances would be exempt from this bill. Basically you could only buy, sell and consume coffee as that is on the exemptions list.

The only substances on the Exempted Substances (Schedule 1) list are (as of 24 January 2016):

  • Controlled drugs
  • Medicinal products
  • Alcohol
  • Nicotine and tobacco products
  • Caffeine
  • Food


Every other substance "affecting the mind or behavior" would be illegal - at least now we know exactly which drugs have escaped the war.

The problems with this bill are endless, though the biggest worry for anyone concerned with self-ownership is that this bill effective grants the government total control of a person's mind. In every single example prohibition fails, it fails to control drug use, it fails to protect people and it fails science. 

 Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP, Chair of the UK Psychoactive Substance Bill Committee, said:

"Britain uses more psychoactive substances than any other country in Europe and is at risk of being overwhelmed by the sheer scale of this problem. Legislating on this issue is the right thing to do, however doing so at speed without any consultation may be counterproductive. The concerns expressed have been dealt with in a piecemeal manner and there has been unsatisfactory communication with the Advisory Council, the very body that the Ministers should rely on for advice."  


The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs actually recommended in 2011 that possession of any drug for personal use should be decriminalized, after seeing the successful changes other countries had made in many other countries.  


Labour MP Paul Flynn (Newport West) stated during the debatewhich was sadly attended by around 30 MP's:

"It is generous to describe this Bill as a landmark in legislative futility, because it is in fact worse than that: this Bill will do harm, as all the other prohibition Bills in the 28 years in which I have been here have—they have all done harm."

"In Ireland what happened was that, certainly the head shops closed down—of course they did; they were illegal—and the sites closed down, but they were replaced by other illegal head shops; they were replaced by a market that is criminal and irresponsible. Furthermore, in Ireland the market among young people for using these drugs increased from 16% of the population to 22%. Those are figures from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction."

"This Bill will be counterproductive. In 1971 we passed the Misuse of Drugs Act. At that time we had 1,000 cocaine and heroin addicts in Britain. We have now got 300,000."

"This Bill should be considered on the evidence alone. Should we support the attempt to move cannabis into an area where scientists can work on it? That is an approach that is based not on superstition, rumour or prejudice, but on science, and it should be supported."


Maybe it's about time we start using an approach based "not on superstition, rumour or prejudice, but on science" and end this destructive war on some drugs. Evidence has shown time and time again that a legal regulated marketplace is safer for all, rather than funding the black market.

The same steps the very country that started the war on drugs in now taking, as many states in the USA have legalized either medical or recreational use of cannabis. Instead the UK will end up creating thousands of new criminals overnight, there is no protection of children, real drug education or awareness under prohibition. 


"How was it that they came to have such jurisdiction over my mind,my precious mind...?"

- Roy Vincent


Read more in our article Prohibition Does Not Work !


The Psychoactive Substances Bill can be read on the UK Parliament website.

The full video of the debate can be found below, the full transcript is also available.