Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards, Staffordshire Police and the Newcastle Borough Council Partnership have been visiting premises in Newcastle as part of the county’s latest blitz on businesses selling legal highs.
Warnings were issued to two premises selling New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), legal highs and drugs paraphernalia. The premises also surrendered around 150 legal highs that were previously on sale.
Six other premises across Staffordshire, plus a further four in Burton, were given warnings detailing the consequences of selling legal highs. A recent seizure in Burton has led to NPS products with a retail value of £13,000 being taken out of the supply chain.
The visits are part of a continued crackdown on the sale of legal highs in the county. The issue has reached national significance, with a law banning their sale outlined in the Queen’s Speech. Ministers are to publish draft laws to prohibit their production, distribution, sale and supply, with the ban carrying a prison sentence of up to seven years.
NPSs, or legal highs as they are more commonly known, contain chemical substances that produce similar effects to illegal drugs like cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy. They cannot be sold for human consumption so are often sold as incense, salts or plant food to get round the law.
There is very little research into how potent they are and how they affect humans, or how they interact with other substances such as alcohol. Many of these legal highs have been linked to poisoning, emergency hospital admissions and in recent cases, even death.
Cllr Gill Heath, Cabinet Support Member for Environment & Rural Issues at Staffordshire County Council said, “Our Trading Standards teams have been carrying out operations in the north and east of the county into the sale of legal highs. Teams have recovered a range of products from a number of premises and are working with local businesses clear up town centres and remove the risk to consumers.
“Legal highs can have serious health risks for people and the chemicals they contain have in most cases never been used in drugs for human consumption before. This means they haven’t been tested to show that they are safe. Users can never be certain what they are taking and what the effects might be, so we would strongly advise people not to take them.”
Anyone with information concerning the sale of “legal highs” should contact Staffordshire Trading Standards on 01785 330 356 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.