Death sparks designer drug probe
‘They have a psychoactive affect on the brain. They are dangerous’
The sudden death of a man in his 20s in Canterbury has been linked to an investigation into the supply of so-called designer drugs.
He was one of 11 people taken to hospital in a matter of days with serious and life-threatening symptoms, including agitation, delirium and loss of consciousness.
He fell ill with a friend in the city in the early hours of Sunday, January 28, and was rushed to hospital, where he later died.
Nine others from Thanet were taken to hospital in the days before, with one of them remaining in a serious condition.
Toxicology reports suggest some had taken what are known as ‘ novel psychoactive substances’.
These are designer, or synthetic drugs, and, in this case, are believed to have mimicked the effects of cannabis.
Hospital workers alerted police, who are now investigating the circumstances around the supply of the drugs in Canterbury and Thanet, although detectives are not directly linking the incidents.
Public Health Kent said in a statement: “Health professionals are concerned for the welfare of people in east Kent who are taking recreational drugs as they report that people can feel unwell for a few days before developing critical symptoms.
“Anyone who feels they may be affected should seek urgent medical attention.”
Professor Alex Stevens, a drugs policy expert at the University of Kent, has highlighted the dangers of taking psychoactive substances, including those known as spice and mamba.
“There are lots of different types of them that mimic cannabis and there are others that are synthetic opioids that mimic the effects of heroin, and they can be quite dangerous,” he said.
“They have a psychoactive affect on the brain and are not the old repertoire of traditional recreational drugs, like cannabis, cocaine or MDMA.
“They are dangerous because some of them are much more potent than cannabis and the people who are taking them don’t what the dosage is, so they can end up taking doses which are much higher than they would if they were taking cannabis.
“This can have a greater effect on the brain. It would be quite rare for a synthetic cannabinoid to be fatal through overdose.”
A 33-year-old man from Birchington was arrested on Friday, January 26, on suspicion of poisoning and supplying a controlled drug in Thanet.
He was later released pending further inquiries.
Anyone with information regarding these incidents should call police on 101 or call Kent Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Prof Alex Stevens, a drugs policy expert at the University of Kent, has highlighted the dangers of taking psychoactive substances, including spice and mamba