Legal highs becoming bigger issue than illegal drugs

Legal highs are becoming a bigger problem than illegal drugs with many young people wrongly believing they are safe.
Legal highs becoming bigger issue than illegal drugsAlan Andrews, an ex-heroin addict who runs a Llanelli-based drug intervention centre, said some legal drugs were stronger than illegal counterparts.

The programme has investigated the issue of legal highs, more than a year after the drug mephedrone, or meow meow, was banned.

Legal highs are substances that are manufactured in a laboratory which do not fall under the current legislation of banned substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act, according to Dr Mohan Da Silva, lead clinician for charity Kaleidoscope Wales.

Undercover recording has found shops breaking the law by selling some of these drugs for human consumption.

Mr Andrews, managing director of Chooselife, said: “It’s becoming a bigger problem than illegal drugs because… the message ‘legal’ means safe, which it’s not.

He said some of the legal high drugs “are stronger, more potent than the illegal drugs and it’s quite scary. There’s a generation of young people who are being sold a lie that legal means safe.”

“There has been a lot of talk about whether things are appropriately classified and I think the development of these new compounds at the rate they’re being developed probably warrants a second look at how we control all drugs,” he said.

Legal highs are not new but there are more of them and there are concerns they are getting more potent.

Last month the monitoring centre which records drug use across Europe said new highs were appearing at an “unprecedented” pace.

Some 41 new substances emerged in 2010, 16 of which were first reported in the UK.

The most high profile has been mephedrone, which has been linked to a number of young people’s deaths.

The UK government is planning to bring in temporary banning orders, to allow time for legal highs to be tested.


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