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Saturday, 22 November 2014

Concerns raised about legal high legalisation

THE idea that possession of drugs should be legalised has been greeted with mixed reactions in Furness.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform, headed by Baroness Meacher, released a report last week on the use of temporary banning orders on “legal highs”, such as mephedrone.

The group say outlawing lower risk substances increases the number of new and potentially dangerous drugs being developed.

And they suggested one remedy could be to legalise possession of all drugs that are currently illegal, following a system used in Portugal.

An extract from the report states: “Banning substances within the current system has not, and in our view will not, reduce their use overall.”

Superintendent for South Cumbria Police, Mark Pannone, said: “There are concerns about a range of different legal highs because they have never been tested or examined medically.

“From a police perspective we would always advise people never to take any substance without knowing what is in it.

“Just because a legal high is sold under the same name as one you have tried before, it does not mean it is the same drug, and there has been significant harm caused to young people by taking legal highs.”

Barrow MP John Woodcock said: “It is obviously important to take very seriously into account the views of the police and experts in this field.

“While I don’t at this stage see a case for making legal highs more readily available, I hope this report will be studied carefully.”

According to the report, the ease with which dealers can develop new synthetic drugs leaves temporary banning orders looking “like efforts to control smoke by clutching at it”.

However, the potential dangers of legal highs were highlighted recently in Cumbria when 2CB, a synthetic stimulant with hallucinogenic properties, hospitalised two people in Kendal.

Evening Mail readers took to Facebook to share their views.

Andy Crossman posted: “Criminalising a substance makes it more appealing to people. They’re going to take drugs whatever whether it’s legal or illegal, at least with the standard drugs people know the risks and long term effects.

“If drugs were legal they would be regulated and clean and you wouldn’t have people dying from poisons.”

Tracy Park said: “ Nobody, let alone kids, should be encouraged to take any drugs. All these new ones haven’t been around long enough to see the full extent of damage they’re doing.”

Anyone looking for information and advice on drugs and their effects should visit www.talktofrank.com

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