Finding a legal high

A new approach from chemists at Queen’s University Belfast, UK, allows for rapid screening and identification of "legal highs" or novel psychoactive substances (NPS) using infrared and Raman spectroscopy. The new approach will help statutory agencies to identify suspicious substances that contain psychoactive compound and so enable a quicker public health response to get the message out to affected communities. Team leader Steven Bell explains that: “The production of these drugs is constantly evolving and unfortunately there have been many instances of highly dangerous variants appearing, causing multiple fatalities before the threat they posed was recognized."