Q: I have seen many news articles lately regarding ‘legal highs’ and while I have never sold such items in my outlet, I am concerned at what is the best course of action if I discover anyone using them.
A: You are right to be concerned because the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 comes into force this April and introduces a number of offences relating to ‘legal highs’.
Unfortunately, it may be difficult to identify particular offending products although the definition of a ‘psychoactive substance’ is particularly wide. If in doubt, a best-practice approach would be to prevent any potentially offending products from being used on your premises and ensure that staff members remain vigilant. Prohibited activities include the supply of substances, possession with intent to supply and assisting or encouraging such an activity. If an enforcement officer believes prohibited activities are being or are likely to be carried on at particular premises, a premises notice can be issued and subsequent failure to comply could result in the issue of a premises order.
If you are found to be in breach of an order without taking reasonable steps to prevent the offence you could be subject to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 12 months and/or a fine. Directors and companies may also be guilty of an offence if it is attributable to neglect on the part of such a person. Nicotine and alcohol products not containing psychoactive substances are exempt from the act. To ensure best practice is maintained, include ‘legal highs’ within a zero-tolerance drugs policy and ensure that all staff members receive regular training on its enforcement.
Can hot drinks land me in hot water?
Q: I run a local pub and my premises licence authorises activities up until midnight. I would like to provide hot non-alcoholic drinks for my customers. Will I need any additional licensing permissions?
A: Assuming you or your staff are providing the drinks (rather than a self-service vending machine) then after 11pm this activity is classed as late-night refreshment and needs permission.
Check your existing permissions, but if you do need to make an application to add this activity, you may be able to do so by way of a minor variation.