Commissioner calls for more ‘drug’ research
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’