Isle of Man teenager's death prompts 'legal highs' drug ban

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The death of a teenager from the Isle of Man has prompted the banning of so-called legal high drugs by the Manx parliament.

It makes a group of substances, often referred to as MDAI, a Class C drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1976.

The Manx legislation, which is expected to be followed by a similar ban in the UK, takes effect on 1 January 2012.

Health Minister, David Anderson said the government action sends out a serious message on the Isle of Man.

"Clearly, this is a dangerous substance, which has tragically cost the life of a young girl [in April, this year]," said Mr Anderson.

"The priority is the safety of our people, and I hope that in bringing this ban, we're able to send a serious message and help prevent this substance causing any ill-effect to anyone in our community.

"That said, there should not be an interpretation by anyone that other 'legal highs' which are available to the public, but have not been banned, are in anyway safe to take."

Education 'a must'

A record number of new "legal highs" were reported across Europe in 2010, with four times as many found in the UK than any other country, figures show.

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction said there were 41 new substances, of which 16 were first reported in the UK.

The sale of legal highs, which include substances like bath salts, fertiliser and cleaning fluid, over the internet makes their control difficult.

Deputy Chief Executive of the Department of Health, Lesley Keenan said: "Banning a substance doesn't mean it just disappears, so education and awareness-raising are a must.

"To that end we've asked that the Department of Home Affairs and the Department of Education and Children work together via the Drug and Alcohol Steering Group on a campaign outlining the need for people to take responsibility for their own decisions in respect of drugs, regardless of whether they are legal or illegal."

The UK government is expected to bring in similar legislation.

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