Legal Highs

The number of drugs providing highs and available legally is now larger than the number of illicit drugs under international control. Over 300 so called designer drugs are now easily bought, often online, and used by an increasing number of young people. In the U.S. 11% of 17- and 18-year old say they have tried them. They are more dangerous than traditional drugs such as cocaine and can easily be manufactured. There are infinite ways to alter their chemical structure, something that makes it harder for international agencies to control them, admits the UN Office on Drugs and Crime which issued the report. The rapid spread of these psychoactive substances, a growing problem in 70 of the 80 countries surveyed, poses unforeseen public health challenges. None has been tested for safety, side effects or consequences of prolonged usage. Drug usage is in itself so distressing, and when combined with drugs that are legally sold openly, it is even more so. The report recommends that the UN, other agencies and countries act to halt the production , sale and use of these drugs, all obvious remedies. Yet, as idealistic as it sounds, using our knowledge and resources to prevent usage may in the end be more practical.