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East Lancs MP fights for tighter laws on 'legal highs'
POLITICIANS have promised to keep pressure on the government to ban so-called ‘legal highs’.
It comes as Hyndburn and Haslingden MP Graham Jones, who has campaigned for tougher rules on the substances, said ministers should make sure they do not take their ‘eye off the ball’ over the coming year.
Some highs, such as Meow Meow, Black Mamba and Benzo Fury have been made illegal but others, like Damnation, can be bought on the high street.
Mr Jones said: “The government is now moving towards taking action on legal highs and add them to the list of banned substances. But we also need to look at the way the law works in terms of categorisation.
“I have had constituents write to me about problems and quite simply, a lot more needs to be done to remove them from the high street.
“The law needs to change — it needs to now be reactive to the new substances.”
Mr Jones (right) said part of the problem was that it took just weeks for a new substance to be made and sold but could take years for the government to pass a law banning it.
He suggested politicians took inspitation from the way highs were managed in America where it is the seller’s responsibility to make sure a substance is safe fo consumption.
He said: “The government here is beginning to look at it and it now a case of making sure they do not take their eye off the ball. I will be reminding the minister that the government ought to be taking action.”
Figures from the Office for National Statistics show fatalities relating to the psychoactive substances rose from 29 in 2011 to 52 in 2012. The industry is not regulated and the products on sale are not tested.
Many contain harmful substances, including those found in garden moss killer and floor paint, and some even contain illegal drugs. Side-effects can include delirium, fitting and heart attacks.
Sanjay Asal, manager at Smokers World, in Blackburn which sells legal highs, said the products came with a warning that they are not meant for human consumption.
He added that the shop would never sell the highs to anybody under the age of 18 as a precaution.
Mr Asal said: “We have an over-25 policy and if anybody comes in and looks under age, they have to provide ID. There is no age limit on legal highs because they are not sold as smoking products. They do mimic the effect of cannabis.”
A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: “Many substances sold as legal highs may in fact be illegal, potentially dangerous and linked to organised crime and anyone who buys such substances is taking risks with their health and could end up with a criminal record.
“Legal highs cannot be assumed to be either safe or legal.”
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