UK Ministers to Block Law against 'Headshops'

LONDON, July 16, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

Angelus respond: Government is acting, "deaf, dumb and blind" over threat from legal highs.


Patron: The Duchess of Kent

Ambassadors: Baroness Margaret Eaton, Lord Parry Mitchell, Baroness Susan Greenfield, Lord David Puttnam, Cherie Lunghi, Felicity Kendall CBE, Vicky Unwin & Jeff Leach

The Government is today blocking a new law, which would prevent the sale of dangerous drugs in high street 'headshops'. Jo Swinson, Minister for Consumer Protection at Department for Business Innovation and Skills, has played down the significance of legal highs and said action was, "not needed".

An amendment to the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill to be debated in Parliament today, 16 July, would have the effect of stopping high street sellers of legal highs from trading in New Psychoactive Substances (NPS). The Home Office Minister responsible for drugs policy, Jeremy Browne MP, intends to block the new law.  

Maryon Stewart of drugs charity Angelus described the Government as being, "wilfully deaf, dumb and blind," over legal highs.

Northern Ireland's Health Minister, Edwin Poots last week called for the Home Office to take urgent action against headshops following a spate of eight deaths from mystery substances. The UN Office and Drugs and Crime last month estimated the numbers of young people in UK (aged 15-24) who have taken a legal high as 670,000 - by far the highest in Europe.

The founder of Angelus, Maryon Stewart, said: "The Drugs Minister keeps saying we are leading the world on legal highs - that is something of a sick joke. The Home Office is not even in the lead in the United Kingdom, with Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland Governments showing they are determined to make positive interventions through public health campaigns and education programmes.

"The Westminster Government have already abandoned drugs education, now they are blocking the law, which would stop the rapidly growing trade of legal highs in headshops. There are now more legal substances out there than illegal ones. The Government is being wilfully deaf, dumb and blind over legal highs. Young people are taking massive risks with these unknown, untested substances - they can buy these drugs on the high street easier than they can buy beer."

Notes to Editors:

1) Maryon Stewart lost her daughter, Hester, to GBL in 2009 and established the Angelus Foundation. It is the only drugs charity dedicated to combating legal highs and club drugs and launched a national campaign in October including the website http://www.whynotfindout.org. There is also a site for families http://www.angelusfoundation.com.

2) An amendment (New Clause 2, tabled 20 June) to the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill to be debated in Parliament on 16 July intends to stop high street sellers of legal highs from trading in New Psychoactive Substances (NPS). Jo Swinson MP, Minister for Consumer Protection at Department for Business Innovation and Skills wrote to the Angelus Foundation on 3 July and said legislation against headshops was, "not needed".

3) The UN Office and Drugs and Crime last month estimated the numbers of young people in UK (aged 15-24) who have taken a legal high as 670,000 (or 8.2 percent) - the highest in Europe.

4) In recent weeks, there have been 17 deaths in Northern Ireland and Scotland from "fake ecstasy" which could be Class A drug PMA, or legal high AMT and or 5-IT which is under a temporary ban.

SOURCE Angelus Foundation



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