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Ramsey J, Dargan PI, Smyllie M, Davies S, Button J, Holt DW, Wood DM. 
“Buying 'legal' recreational drugs does not mean that you are not breaking the law”. 
QJM. 2010 Jul 30;? (103):777-783.

BACKGROUND: Recreational drug use in the UK is common sources of recreational drugs are changing, with increasing purchase of legal highs from the Internet. Previous studies have shown that there is not consistency of active ingredients in legal highs purchased from the Internet. AIMS: The aim of this study was to determine the impact of the 16 April 2010 change to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 on the content of 'legal highs' purchased over the Internet and supplied within the UK.

METHODS: Legal highs were purchased from a number of different Internet suppliers and the active ingredients determined by analysis undertaken within a Home Office approved and licensed laboratory set in a UK academic institution. The active ingredients detected on screening were then compared to the UK legislation in force at the time of purchase to determine whether each individual 'legal' high was in fact legal or not.

RESULTS: All 18 products purchased prior to the change in the UK legislation contained active ingredients that were legal under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 in force at that time. Six products were purchased and analysed after the changes to the UK Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 on the 16 April 2010. Five of the products contained information, either on the Internet site or the packaging, stating that the product contained legal substances the final product did not specify the active ingredient and so purchasers would be unable to determine if this was truly a legal product. Five of the six products contained an active ingredient that is a Class B drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 the other product contained an unlicensed medicine not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. CONCLUSION: We have shown in this study that some drugs sold as 'legal' highs contain drugs that are controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Under current UK legislation, individuals purchasing legal highs that contained controlled drugs would be subject to the same penalties as if they had knowingly purchased a controlled drug. Dissemination of information on the harm associated with the use of legal highs should also inform individuals that they may be purchasing controlled substances and the potential legal consequences of this.
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