RELATED TERMS: PLANT FOOD, NPS, NEW PSYCHOACTIVE SUBSTANCES, MDAT, ERIC 3, DIMETHOCAINE, BATH SALTS.
What are ‘legal highs’?
‘Legal highs’ are substances which produce similar effects to illegal drugs (such as cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy) but that are not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act. These new substances are not yet controlled because there is not enough research about them to base a decision on. However, more and more ‘legal highs’ are being researched to see what the dangers are and if they should be made illegal.
‘Legal highs’ cannot be sold for human consumption so they are often sold as bath salts or plant food to get round the law.
Just the fact that a substance is sold as legal to possess, doesn’t mean that it’s safe – you can’t really be sure what’s in a ‘legal high’ that you’ve bought, or been given, or what effect it’s likely to have on you. We known that the use of many ‘legal highs’, like mephedrone, Ivory Wave and 5-IT, have been directly linked to emergency hospital admissions and, in some cases, deaths.
The main effects of almost all ‘psychoactive’ drugs, including ‘legal highs’, can be described using three main categories:
- ‘downers’ or sedatives
- psychedelics or hallucinogens.
Some drugs sold as ‘legal’ actually have been found to contain one or more substances that are, in fact, illegal.
‘Legal highs’ are normally sold as powders, pills or capsules.
The powders can range from white to brown to yellow in colour and from flour-like to little crystals in consistency. While the pills and capsules can range in size, shape and colour.