'Hippy crack' among legal highs UK government wants to ban
Legal highs such as "hippy crack" would be made illegal under a draft law published by Britain's government Friday.
The planned blanket ban -- with special exemptions for alcohol and other substances -- is one of the first measures announced by Prime Minister David Cameron's new centre-right government following last month's general election.
It comes following a spate of reports in tabloid newspapers about the popularity of "hippy crack", also known as laughing gas or nitrous oxide.
The discarded, small silver-coloured capsules which users break open before inhaling the substance via a balloon are a common sight on streets in busy parts of London and other British cities and leading England footballers have been pictured inhaling the substance.
The legislation is drawn widely in an attempt to ensure the law keeps pace with the development of new drugs which are often sold over the Internet.
It would ban all "psychoactive substances" which "by stimulating or depressing the person's central nervous system (affect) the person's mental functioning or emotional state".
The draft law includes exemptions for alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and medicines including homeopathic and herbal medicine.
Anyone convicted under the law could face a jail term of up to a year.
"The landmark bill will fundamentally change the way we tackle new psychoactive substances and put an end to the game of cat and mouse in which new drugs appear on the market more quickly than government can identify and ban them," said Crime Minister Mike Penning.
But some scientists have warned that the ban could limit research on the therapeutic use of drugs.
The measure still has to be debated and voted on by parliament before becoming law.
© 2015 AFP