A drug illegal in four European countries but which The Argus revealed was still freely available in Brighton may be banned this week.

The Home Office has asked the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs to review the sale of Spice in Britain after it was found to have similar properties to cannabis.

Earlier this year, The Argus discovered that the herbal high was being sold across Brighton, despite having been outlawed in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and even Holland.

Despite the likelihood of the drug being pulled from the shelves this week, supplies of it have already dried up in the city.

Bob Caulfield sold Spice from his shop, Taylors Tobacconists in Bond Street, for more than a year and said his regulars would buy about 30 packets a week.

But he said that since his suppliers had become aware of the furore surrounding the sale of the drug they had stopped selling it.

It was coming in from abroad but once the suppliers heard about the negative publicity it was getting and the potential ban, they have stopped selling it and so have we, he said.

The review of the drug's status is expected to be concluded this week.

Its potent ingredient is the chemical JWH018, a relative of THC, the natural substance which provides the high in cannabis.

But JWH018 is known to be four or five times stronger than THC.

The drug sells at 15 to 25 for three grams, depending on the strength, and is made of a mixture of plant products, including baybean, blue lotus flowers and lion's tail.

A Home Office spokeswoman said its use had been monitored by the Home Office and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs And Drug Addiction since the end of 2007.

Dr Les King, a member of the Home Office Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, will present the latest evidence on Spice to the council before making a recommendation to the Home Secretary.

Last week he told another drugs conference: "Just a few months ago it was found that a smoking mixture known as Spice was not the innocuous material that it purported to be.

"The claimed constituents, namely various herbs, were a Trojan horse. The real psychoactive constituents were synthetic additives."

Spice is marketed as incense and its packets say it is not for human consumption but it is displayed alongside smoking papers and other legal highs .