Com­mis­sioner calls for more ‘drug’ re­search

Bangor Mail - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVID POW­ELL

APO­LICE chief in North Wales has called for even more re­search to be done on so called “le­gal highs” to es­tab­lish whether they should in fact be­come crim­i­nalised drugs.

Win­ston Rod­dick QC, North Wales Po­lice and Crime Com­mis­sioner, is urg­ing the Home Of­fice to ex­tend its ex­ist­ing tests on such drugs, also known as club drugs or new psy­choac­tive sub­stances (NPS).

It comes as the prob­lem es­ca­lates: 60 peo­ple in the UK died after tak­ing le­gal highs in 2013, with 52 deaths in 2012 and 29 in 2011.

Mephedrone (or meow meow) is an am­phet­a­mine type drug which was once a le­gal high but has now been crim­i­nalised un­der the Mis­use of Drugs Act.

There may be a case for other drugs, such as syn­thetic cannabi­noids “Blue Cheese” or “Am­s­ter­dam Gold” which can make users feel happy, talk­a­tive, para­noid or ill, to be out­lawed too.

Mr Rod­dick, who de­clared “to­tal war” on all drugs, told the Mail: “The ex­pres­sion ‘le­gal high’ is new to our lan­guage and le­gal highs are new to our streets. There’s a mys­tery about them.

“Much more re­search is re­quired so we that can have clar­ity as to whether they are le­gal or whether they are more high than le­gal and what the ex­tent of the dan­ger is.

“Once there is clar­ity on those mat­ters the Home Of­fice will be able to de­cide whether they should be cov­ered by the Mis­use of Drugs Act and clar­ity will en­able the po­lice to act.”

How­ever, he wel­comed po­lice ac­tion in the war on drugs in North Wales.

“All the ex­am­ples I’ve seen in the news of late were ex­er­cises car­ried out by NWP which re­sulted in large scale ar­rests and seizure of drugs. But there is more to do.”

The nhsw.co.uk web­site states that le­gal highs can se­ri­ously dam­age your health.

The chem­i­cals they con­tain have in most cases never been tested to show they are safe, it says.

Symp­toms can in­clude “re­duced in­hi­bi­tions, drowsi­ness, ex­cited or para­noid states, coma, seizures and, in a few cases, death”.

Even drugs which look sim­i­lar to oth­ers and have sim­i­lar names may have vary­ing strengths and ef­fects.

A Home Of­fice spokesper­son said: “The Gov­ern­ment is de­ter­mined to clamp down on sup­pli­ers and traders of new psy­choac­tive sub­stances, or so called ‘le­gal highs’, which have claimed the lives of far too many young peo­ple.

“We have al­ready banned more than 350 new drugs and cre­ated the Foren­sic Early Warn­ing Sys­tem to iden­tify New Psy­choac­tive Sub­stances in the UK. We also support law en­force­ment ac­tion with the lat­est in­tel­li­gence on new drugs.

“As part of the gov­ern­ment’s re­sponse to the Ex­pert Re­view of New Psy­choac­tive Sub­stances we will un­der­take a num­ber of ac­tions re­lat­ing to re­search. This in­cludes work within gov­ern­ment to im­prove data col­lec­tion and pub­lish­ing ‘New Psy­choac­tive Sub­stances in Eng­land: A re­view of the ev­i­dence’..”

North Wales Po­lice and Crime Com­mis­sioner Win­ston Rod­dick is call­ing for more test­ing by the West­min­ster Gov­ern­ment on ‘le­gal highs’

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