End could be in sight for dubious substances
Legal highs may not be legal for much longer, with reports that a ban could even be announced in the Queen's Speech today.
This would be similar to the Republic, which has banned the sale of all psychoactive drugs except tobacco and alcohol.
Also known as novel psychoactive substances (NPS), legal highs are not covered by current misuse of drugs laws. While legal to possess or to use, they can still be dangerous or fatal.
Some authorities have attempted to control them through temporary bans on a drug's specific chemical compound. But manufacturers get around this by altering the chemical make-up of the drug to create a new substance.
Because they cannot be sold for human consumption they are often sold as incense, salts or plant food to get around the law.
Belfast City Council has taken its own novel approach to the law, by avoiding the Misuse of Drugs Act and using General Product Safety Regulations instead.
The defendants were guilty not of drug dealing, but supplying a product they should have presumed to be dangerous. They also failed to keep documents to trace the origin of the product and failed to co-operate with action taken by the council.
The prosecution is the first of its kind in the UK and shows how existing laws can be used to prosecute those selling dangerous products, the council said.