Home Secretary is Ignoring Advice Over Legal Highs Including her Experts

May 16, 2013, 15:52 ET from Angelus Foundation

LONDON, May 16, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

Founder of the drugs charity, Angelus, Maryon Stewart, described the Home Secretary as, "ignoring advice over Legal Highs including her own experts." The Chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, Prof. Les Iversen warned today that there would be a terrible incident with legal highs "sooner or later."

Prof Iversen's warning followed reports from Home Affairs Committee, the All Party Committee on Drug Reform and UK Drug Policy Commission all of which include stark reminders of the need for urgent action against easy access to legal highs. However, the Home Secretary refuses to acknowledge there is a significant problem. In December, she promised to Parliament she would look into "existing legislation" such consumer protection and trading standards but nothing resulted. Each March she sets out her priorities on drugs to the ACMD chair but has not done so this year.

Prof Les Iversen said, "We will get unexpected and serious harm emerging with one of these compounds and then we will blame ourselves for allowing them to be sold without the usual safety data. I think this is a serious problem, it's not just a nice set of party drugs that we can let people get on with, it's a set of chemicals that are potentially very dangerous."

Angelus is campaigning for new laws to stop the trade in legal highs on the high street. Angelus met with Drug Minister, Jeremy Browne earlier this year as well as officials at No.10 but none would commit to any legal changes to stop the booming business of selling legal highs to young people despite the fact that many other countries are now taking action.

The founder of Angelus, Maryon Stewart, said: "Everyone who understands about what these substances actually are, knows we are facing an epidemic of untested chemicals which put the well-being of the nation's young people at risk, and in some cases even their lives. Everyone that is except the Home Secretary continues to ignore urgent warnings about legal highs from the Home Affairs Committee, the All Party Group on Drug Policy Reform and now even her own experts. The ACMD is today pleading with her to take action but she appears unable to give the matter any priority. She and her Ministers think simply banning substances makes a difference when world experts know it doesn't. We need immediate action against the high street sale of these drugs and a concerted education programme so that young people know that legal highs are not in fact safe substances but often a combination of drugs and toxic chemicals and taking them is tantamount to playing Russian Roulette with their lives."

Notes to editors:

1) Maryon Stewart lost her daughter to GBL 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) In July, Scotland's largest health board in Glasgow reported a 358% rise in the number of young people needing emergency treatment after taking legal highs. It many cases, patients only survived after "urgent specialist treatment".

SOURCE Angelus Foundation