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Lords tell Europe that member states require “unfettered flexibility” to respond to concerns about legal highs


The House of Lords is continuing its dialogue with the European Commission over the issue of ‘legal highs', in its reply to the European Commission's response to the Committee's report.

In its report, published in November 2013, the Lords EU Committee called on the European Commission to think again about a new proposed Regulation and Directive to transfer the power to ban and regulate so-called “legal highs” from Member States to the European Commission.

Although the Committee agrees with the Commission's concerns about the risk that these substances pose and supports the EU's work around definitions, data sharing and tackling drug trafficking, it does not agree that the best place to take decisions to ban new psychoactive substances would be at EU level.

The House endorsed the Committee's concerns and recommendations, and the Commission responded to its reasoned opinion. 

In its reply to the Commission's response, the Committee acknowledges that the Commission has a role to play in tackling the negative effects of legal highs.

The Committee said that it remains “convinced that Member States are best place to respond to NPS [new psychoactive substances] within their own differing systems and require unfettered flexibility to respond rapidly to local situations in order to protect public health.”

The letter goes on to respond positively to the news that the Commission agrees that Member States are better placed than the EU to address any risk that is restricted to its national territory, and says the Commission must amend the draft Regulation to reflect this.

The letter is available to read on the Committee's webpage.

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