Prohibition has not made drugs disappear. Demand for drugs is irrepressible: governments must focus instead on minimising their risks.
The Government tried to solve the problem by banning each legal high as soon as they could claim to have some evidence of harm: the “reactive prohibition” approach. But this disregarded the reality of the underlying demand and only spurred the proliferation of new, unknown substances. Those in the legal high business effortlessly altered their formulas to dodge each ban.
Since cannabis is the most popular prohibited drug, synthetic cannabinoids were inevitably the most popular NPS. Stronger, more toxic and addictive than their traditional counterpart, they were riskier for users in all but one crucial way: they were legal. Cannabis prohibition created the demand for synthetic cannabinoids. The government made no less than three attempts to ban synthetic cannabinoids but the bans were sidestepped each time by newer versions.