Legal highs are legal no more, after a blanket ban came into force today (May 26).

Here’s what you need to know about the ban, and the consequences of breaking the Psychoactive Substances Act – which was originally expected to be rolled out in April.

Could you be jailed for breaking it?

YES, offenders could face up to seven years in prison.

Shops selling the drugs, or paraphernalia linked to taking them, could also be shut down from today.

Police will also have new powers to seize and destroy drugs, as well as searching people, cars and homes.

Will the ban reduce drug taking?

There are mixed views on this one. A survey by the YMCA found whilst overall usage was likely to reduce, a hefty two thirds of young people would continue to take their favoured no-longer-legal high.

There are also fears it could force dealers onto the so-called “dark web”, of unlisted and difficult to trace websites.

News Shopper:

'Laughing gas' is legal no more

Meanwhile, criminal lawyer Edmund Smyth, who works at Kingsley Napley, expressed fears that police “have ever more stretched resources, so questions remain about their ability to enforce the new regime effectively”.

What ARE legal highs?

New psychoactive substances, also referred to as designer drugs, exploded onto the scene in 2008/09.

They contain substances which mimic the effects of “traditional” drugs such as cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy or “party pill” MDMA.

News Shopper: Ecstasy tablets

Nitrous Oxide, often called “laughing gas” or “hippy crack” is included in the new law.

Why are they dangerous?

Official figures, released last month, found that deaths linked to these legal drugs had more than tripled in just two years.

In total, 76 people died in the decade since 2004, among them Jimmy Guichard, 20, from Gravesend, Kent.

He suffered a heart attack and brain damage after smoking synthetic cannabis.

His mum, campaigner Karen Vandersypen, told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We are absolutely delighted this has come into effect.

News Shopper: This picture of Jimmy on life support is being used to front a Latvian campaign warning of the dangers of illegal highs.

Jimmy, who tragically died in his mother's arms

“It is just such a shame we have paid such a high price for having it there.”

Councillor Simon Blackburn of the Local Government Association deemed them a “scourge on society (which) shatter lives”.

He added: “The new blanket ban on psychoactive substances should help to reduce anti-social behaviour linked to their use, which has been harming communities and blighting town and city centres for residents and visitors for too long.”

Which drugs aren’t included?

Poppers, a drug commonly used during gay sex, remains legal – after a last-minute exclusion from the legislation.

As does nicotine, alcohol and a number of legitimate medical products.

Why has the government introduced this law?

Minister Karen Bradley explained: “Too many lives have been lost or ruined by the dangerous drugs formerly referred to as ‘legal highs’.

“That is why we have taken action to stamp out this brazen trade.

“The Psychoactive Substances Act sends a clear message - these drugs are not legal, they are not safe and we will not allow them to be sold in this country.”