Canterbury and Whitstable MP demands action over legal highs
Julian Brazier has challenged the Home Office to end confusion over chemicals sold as so-called legal highs in high street shops.
Speaking in Parliament on Monday, the Conservative MP for Canterbury and Whitstable asked for clarity over criminal offences which arise from drugs which can cause illness or death.
Matt Ford says he nearly died after taking a legal high
His call comes after 17-year-old student Matt Ford, from Whitstable, suffered a heart attack after smoking a drug called Exodus Damnation he bought at UK Skunkworks in Canterbury earlier this month.
Mr Brazier said: “May I suggest that the best way to cope with this is simply to say that if someone dies or becomes severely ill as a result of taking a drug that is a close chemical cousin of a banned drug, that should throw up a criminal offence?”
Canterbury and Whitstable MP Julian Brazier
Norman Baker, the Lib Dem minister for crime prevention, replied: “The Home Office already
takes steps to ensure that when a new substance appears that could be injurious to health, we seek to ban analogous drugs — the family of drugs — as a consequence.
“We also try to have an early response system, so that when a substance appears, it can be picked up and banned very quickly.”
Afterwards, Mr Brazier said: “There seems to be a gap between the law as understood by
the Home Office and the law as it is usable by the police.
“The police tell me that none of the products are illegal sold by headshops like Skunkworks are illegal, but it is hard to believe that none of them are close chemical compounds of existing banned drugs.
“Following the logic of the minister’s answer, such ‘close relations’ should also be illegal. I shall be pursuing this further.
“We have to find a way of closing down these wretched shops.”
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