Aldershot News & Mail
Fresh concerns over ‘legal highs’
Police say they are monitoring shop selling ‘legal high’ products and have warned youngsters of their risks
THE police are monitoring shops in the News & Mail patch which are selling ‘lifethreatening’ chemicals classed as legal highs.
UK Skunkworks, a business which operates 19 shops across the south of England, has a shop in Aldershot’s Victoria Road.
The shop sells smoking paraphernalia, such as bongs, scales and pipes as well as chemicals that are legal in the UK as they do not contravene the Misuse of Drugs Act.
Despite being legal to sell, the business has been criticised by local authorities and the police for the hazards its products pose to customers.
Rushmoor Borough Council members passed a motion in February 2012 to call for controls to be introduced on the sale of drug-related paraphernalia in the borough.
In a debate at this month’s full council meeting on legal highs, Rushmoor’s Labour leader, Cllr Alex Crawford, described the products sold at UK Skunkworks shops as ‘a great source of public nuisance’.
Among them are seeds to grow hallucinogens, which are promoted in leaflets on display in the shop. Although these are illegal to consume, the leaflets describe their ‘unforgettable taste’ and ‘relaxing effect’.
The manager of the Aldershot UK Skunkworks shop was unavailable for comment.
A separate shop in Fleet Road, Fleet, under different ownership, has also concerned residents.
Izzy, formerly Snip and before that Woolworths, predominantly stocks household items, toys and craft materials but displays an array of pipes and items with cannabis images behind its counter.
One worried mother, who asked not to be named, said she had also seen items such as air deodorants, poppers and hash tins for sale there.
“My issue is it’s in Fleet high street and it’s a kids’ shop,” she said. “Parents need to know about this. How dare they sell it? You don’t expect to have people selling those things in Fleet.
“I know it’s legal but it’s so wrong to be selling it there alongside bucket-and-spades.”
Soni Singh, manager of Izzy, rejected the suggestion the products sold there were harmful, adding that they were popular in the area and only available to those over 18 and staff always asked for ID. He said no complaints had ever been voiced by customers or the police.
He said: “It’s all safe. We wouldn’t bring those things into the shop if they were dangerous.”
A Hampshire Constabulary spokesman said officers knew of the UK Skunkworks shop in Aldershot and issued a warning to anyone thinking of buying the potentially dangerous products.
He said: “We are aware of the shop and we are working with the owner, local businesses and the local council to reduce the level of related antisocial behaviour in Aldershot town centre.
“Taking so-called legal highs can result in serious consequences. We want young people to be fully informed about the risks that these chemicals, which are not for human consumption, can pose and we therefore work closely with our partners to educate young people that legal does not always mean safe.
“The consequences can be life-threatening or life-changing. There is no doubt that there are high risks when it comes to introducing chemicals to your body without any idea of what impact they will have.
“Anyone who thinks they could be affected by the issues surrounding legal high drugs is encouraged to seek professional advice and help.”