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Your Guide to the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016

On May 26th last year, the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 came into force across the UK. You may not have been aware of its existence, let alone what it might mean.

This is our guide to how it might affect the health and wellbeing of your staff.

The lowdown on ‘legal highs’

This new legislation excludes alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and amyl nitrate (poppers). Its intention is to stop the supply of so-called 'legal highs' through a blanket ban of psychoactive substances.

While they’re commonly, and incorrectly, referred to as 'legal highs', New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) are compounds that mimic illicit substances. Until now they haven’t been regulated or tested, meaning that they’re often more harmful than the substances they mimic.

Under the new legislation, penalties will be imposed on those who supply a psychoactive substance or possess with intent to supply. Personal use is permitted but supplying to a friend carries a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment.

How does this affect your business?

Employers are becoming more aware of the need for a thorough drugs and alcohol policy. When it comes to workplace drug testing, these changes in legislation mean that businesses need to be aware of the implications of their existing policy.

Since the personal use of NPS is allowed and based on the new legislation rather than the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) 1971, the wording of a policy is more important than ever. If your policy only mentions drugs covered by the MDA, you won’t be covered to test for NPS.

As part of a broader work health check or as a specific drugs-and-alcohol policy review, we can ensure that your policy contains the correct wording. We can also carry out any necessary tests on employees you suspect might be using psychoactive substances.

Why should you test for ‘legal highs’?

While it’s important to be vigilant of any substance misuse in the workplace, psychoactive substances and other so-called ‘legal highs’ have been particularly concerning due to the relative ease with which people could access them. The intention of the new Act is to curb this.

At Fusion, we can also help you to create policies and strategies that offer advice, help and education about the dangers of psychoactive substances and ‘legal highs’.

If you’d like to find out more, get in touch today.

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Categories: Drug & Alcohol TestingHealth & WellbeingOccupational Health

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