Justice Minister David Ford and Health Minister Simon Hamilton have welcomed the Psychoactive Substances Act which received royal assent on 28 January 2016.
The Act which is due to be implemented from spring this year, will prohibit the production, supply and importation of these potentially dangerous drugs, often incorrectly called ‘legal highs’, and will see offenders face up to seven years in prison.
David Ford said: “The Psychoactive Substances Act will considerably enhance the powers available to our enforcement agencies to stop those intent on supplying these harmful substances here in Northern Ireland and across the UK.
“The Act is an important milestone in the efforts of the Westminster Government and the Devolved Administrations and represents a significant change in approach to the emergence of these substances.
“My Department, alongside others within the Executive, will continue to work with both the Home Office and key partners across Northern Ireland to prepare for commencement of the new law in the spring of this year.”
Minister Hamilton said: “New Psychoactive Substances have caused significant mental and physical health issues in Northern Ireland. That is why my Department called on the UK Government to bring forward legislation to ban their sale and supply across the UK.
“My Department, and the Department of Justice, have been working very closely with the Home Office on this issue and I believe this new legislation sends out a clear message – these substances are not legal and they certainly are not safe.
“While it will not solve all the issues, I welcome the legislation as it will help to reduce the supply and availability of these substances – especially to our children and young people.”