European Union proposals for continent-wide regulation of legal highs would not add any value to the approach already being taken in Britain, Home Office minister Norman Baker has said.
Mr Baker said the Government would reject a draft EU regulation and directive on legal highs – also known as new psychoactive substances – as the UK usually identifies and bans them much quicker than a European system would.
He said the European system would be reactive and time-consuming compared with the system used in Britain, and added that the proposed EU regulation failed the test of subsidiarity – that is that the EU should not take action unless it is more effective than that already being taken at a national level.
Mr Baker told the Commons there is not a large internal market for new psychoactive substances that also have legitimate use so EU regulation was not required.
He said: “The proposed regulation has features which may possibly be appropriate if harmonisation of a legitimate internal market was genuinely required.
“However when applied to the control of these substances by member states, the proposal greatly exceeds any action which is required at an EU level and this does not comply with the principle of subsidiarity.
“For those few psychoactive substances which do have legitimate uses, which amounts to fewer than 2% of the more than 300 substances identified by the European Centre for Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction since 2005, our framework is already flexible enough to place controls on these substances to restrict recreational use while not hindering genuine use in industry.”
He went on: “While the current proposals would involve an accelerated risk assessment control process this would still be a reactive model in which it would take time for sufficient evidence of harms to emerge to trigger a risk assessment.
“Furthermore the vast majority of these substances seen in Europe in recent years have already been classed as illegal drugs in the UK.
“With many other member states also being well ahead of the EU-level response to this threat, we simply do not accept the commission’s proposal would add any material value at all to the domestic approach that is already being taken.”
Courtesy of Press Association
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