The recent news that the UK government is finally starting to close a loophole on the sale of so-called legal highs. This follows mounting pressure from experts such as mental health professionals, not to mention the families who are affected by tragedies such as the one reported in the Daily Mail this week of a young promising student dying after taking legal highs with her boyfriend.
Unfortunately, the availability of legal highs has increased exponentially with admissions to hospitals. The NHS reported a 56% increase in 2012 of people being admitted to A&E’s suffering from the effects of legal highs. Furthermore, it was reported there was 97 deaths in 2012 from legal highs compared to 12 in 2009.
As reported in this blog, legal highs are untested, unpredictable and potentially fatal. Currently manufacturers of legal highs are able to get round the law by marking the drug “not for human consumption”. Also, altering the chemical constituent of any drug makes it potentially a new drug. Substances with such exotic names as Bliss, Mary Jane, clockwork Orange are sold openly in so-called head shops up and down the country.
The psychological and neurological effects of such drugs are completely unknown, as and if taking legal highs causes long-term damage to the brain. Certainly drugs like cocaine and heroin have been well documented for many years and people know the outcome, not so legal highs.
Unfortunately, making legal highs illegal will force the sale of these drugs underground. Furthermore, how the government monitor the sales of legal highs online is yet to be seen.