On the 26th of May 2016, the UK Government introduced the Psychoactive Substances Act, 2016. The aim of this short report is to explore online shops selling New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) stated motivations for closing and the changes that arose preceding the ban.
Methods: The search for online shops selling NPS was made throughout October 2015. From March to June 2016, data were collected on the status of the online shops, and whether they mentioned the ban, the delay, or their closure.
Results: From the original 113 online shops, only 52% remained open.
Those that remained were either based overseas (65%), removed NPS and became a headshop (19%), or were inactive (16%). Only 24% of UK-registered websites remained open after the ban.
Conclusions: UK-registered websites closed down or moved domain locations and no longer sold to UK customers. UK-registered websites communicated with customers at each stage of the legislation. It is unknown whether the UK retailers have ceased selling NPS or have been displaced to underground markets (street level dealing or the hidden web). The majority of shops in this study were located in Europe or North America, showing that there is still high demand in both continents.