A MUM whose teenage son became seriously ill after taking the new legal high ‘Black Mamba’ has called for it to be made illegal.
The 17-year-old tried the drug at a house party in Accrington and needed hospital treatment after he lost control of his limbs, his body temperature dropped rapidly and he turned 'grey'.
Other known side effects of the drug, which is smoked like cannabis, include delirium, stupor, hallucinations, dehydration and vomiting.
Hyndburn MP Graham Jones said he backed the move and called for an end to the ‘lunacy’ of ‘concocted chemicals’ being freely available.
It comes after mephedrone, also known as bubble, was reclassified as an illegal Class B drug by the Government in response to concerns over its links to several deaths of young people.
The new designer drug, which is a synthetic skunk cannabis substitute, has also put seven Cumbrian teenagers in A&E and prompted a warning from the police because of its ‘super’ strength in small doses.
The Lancashire Telegraph was easily able to buy a £10 packet from a tobacconist in Blackburn town centre, with the shop worker saying: “Use a small amount, it is very, very strong.”
The North West Health Protection Agency said its CRCE team (Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards) was also working with the National Poisons Information Service on the issue because of a growing number of cases.
The mum, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “My son went to a friend’s house party in Accrington.
"He was offered a smoke of a substance and as it was legal my son decided to try it and took one inhalation.
“Immediately he started to have very strong effects.
“At one point he was bent over with his hands immersed in soil in the friend's garden.
"He said he was hallucinating and it was hugely overwhelming for him.
“His limbs became very rigid and he could not walk or move unaided.
"He stopped talking and was in a barely-conscious state.
"His body temperature reduced dramatically and his skin colour became grey and green.
"All these events occurred within 30 minutes.
“I cannot praise the hospital staff enough as they were so helpful, understanding and non judgmental.
“He has not suffered any adverse effect since apart from embarrassment and being grounded for being so stupid as to put an unknown substance in his body.”
Mr Jones said: “I think it is important to warn people of the dangers of the lunacy of drugs, legal highs and other concocted chemicals made up in 'back street' premises by greedy, ruthless, uncaring gangs.
“People involved in providing drugs are the lowest of the low.
"They fail to understand the misery caused by this industry, where families suffer the horrors of addiction, broken homes, wasted youth, ill health and early death.”
Health chiefs have warned that because legal highs are not regulated there is no research into the effect on people’s health now or in later life.
One batch can also be a lot stronger than another.
Some versions of Black Mamba are marketed as ‘not for human consumption’.
But the 1g packet the Lancashire Telegraph bought for £10 simply says it is 100 per cent legal.
Dr Tom Smith, the Lancashire Telegraph’s medical expert, said he couldn’t understand why people would take the drug given the risks involved.
He said: “The two main problems are that a very small proportion of people taking this drug can become psychotic and get a schizophrenic-like reaction that can be very difficult to treat and sometimes people don’t recover at all.
“The second thing is the cannabinoids stay in the brain quite a long time, so even years after they are still there which can lead to a high chance of dementia.
“If that’s not scary I don’t know what is.”
Licensing officer PC Andy Duxbury said: “This is something new on the market and was handed to us by trading standards.
“I would strongly advise against using it because it is not properly regulated and people don’t know what is in it and how they will react.”
Paul Noone, head of trading standards for Lancashire County Council, said: "Many products sold as legal highs are indeed legal, often because they are made using new synthetic substances or are not among those products already banned from sale by legislation.
"Our advice to people is that products sold as legal highs are very often unregulated and people should be aware that just because they are available on the high street it doesn't mean the product is safe to use.”
Carl Fletcher, operations manager at Early Break - a confidential local service for under 21s - said: “It is something that is only just emerging. Legal highs imply safety, but that is not necessarily the case.
"Young people concerned about it should contact us.”