A campaign is taking place across Leeds to improve awareness of the dangers of taking legal highs, ahead of a major change in the law.
West Yorkshire Police are working closely alongside civic leaders and drug experts, with a particular emphasis on warning young people about the substances – which are designed to simulate the effect of various illegal drugs.
Use of legal highs has increased dramatically in recent years, with police figures suggesting that incidents across the region have risen from 184 in 2013/14 to 849 in 2015/16.
In a recent interview with the Yorkshire Evening Post, one user described how his life had fallen apart after he became addicted to mephredrone – more commonly known as M-Cat.
Matters came to a head two years ago, when the young man attempted to take his own life.
The campaign comes ahead of a blanket ban on legal highs which is set to be rolled out nationwide. As of tomorrow (Thursday) those involved in the manufacture or supply of psychoactive substances such as M-Cat, Black Mamba or Spice could face prison sentences of up to seven years.
The Government hopes that the new legislation will send a clear message about the dangers of legal highs, which have previously been available for sale in convenience stores, petrol stations and local shops.
However, Prof David Nutt, a former advisor on government drugs policy, has warned that the ban will see many more users turn to drug dealers.
“It will be a scary market,” he said. “And there will be much less safety. Deaths will increase.
“There will be no quality control – people won’t stop using legal highs, they will just use more dangerous ones.
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