Fears over legal high sales as clampdown draws closer

Legal highs come in a range of types and packaging.
Legal highs come in a range of types and packaging.

A surge in drug users in Nottinghamshire buying so-called ‘legal highs’ is feared as legislation moves closer to a blanket ban over the controversial substances.

A new law prohibiting the supply, import and export of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) - commonly known as legal highs - is due to come into force in early 2016, but there are fears this may prompt distributors to offload supplies at low prices to dispose of stock before the ban comes in.

The crystalised substances come under a number of names such as ‘Dust Till Dawn’, ‘Rainbow Pellets’ and ‘Go-caine’ and can cause effects similar to cocaine or amphetamine, including a taker feeling energised, physically active, fast-thinking, chatty and euphoric.

They often come in colourful, professionally-looking packages, and the powder is usually snorted.

Hundreds of packs were seized from an unnamed Mansfield shop during the summer by Nottinghamshire County Council.

The council, in association with Crimestoppers, held a major summit yesterday, Friday, October 16 to discuss how this and other issues relating to the use of NPS in the county can be tackled.

The audience included people working on the front line, who regularly deal with the consequences of NPS use, such as police officers, prison officers, health workers, social workers, youth workers, foster carers, teachers, counsellors and anti-social behaviour officers.

Councillor Glynn Gilfoyle, chairman of community safety committee at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “We welcome the plans for a blanket ban on legal highs announced in the Queen’s Speech earlier this year, but we are extremely concerned about the potential of the market being flooded in the meantime.

“It’s not inconceivable that we will see discounted NPS and special deals for buying larger quantities as dealers look to offload supplies the nearer we get to the ban coming in, so it’s more important than ever that we are alert to what’s happening on the ground and that partners use the powers currently available to restrict the circulation of legal highs in our communities now.

“As well as increasing awareness of legal highs with people working on the frontline, we hope to better share intelligence and learn about the ways in which we can tackle the issue more effectively, both before and after the new legislation is introduced.”

The use of NPS has been associated with a range of health problems, including seizures, kidney damage, mental illness and even death.

Trading Standards Officers from Nottinghamshire County Council have seized over 900 packets of ‘legal highs’ from retailers in the county as part of investigations into the sale of untested drugs.