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Winchester MP Steve Brine urges Home Office to act over 'legal highs'
10:40am Wednesday 30th October 2013 in News
DRUGS laws may no longer be “fit for purpose” because of Internet sales of deadly “legal highs”, a Hampshire MP has suggested.
The call comes after a boom in legal highs that are bought online before being delivered “direct to people’s homes”, the Conservative MP said.
They are believed to have claimed three lives in Hampshire in little more than a year, including that of trainee doctor Doug Ferguson, 19, from Chandler’s Ford, in Mr Brine’s constituency.
The Daily Echo has launched its Say No to Legal Highs campaign, calling for tougher regulations to combat the spiralling trade and its devastating impact.
Council bosses and police chiefs have already backed our campaign – launched after the deadly substances killed three young people in H a m p s h i r e and left one seriously ill.
The potentially fatal substances are readily available to buy in the county’s shops, as well as online.
During Home Office questions, Mr Brine warned the UK was now the “hub for the European legal highs market”.
And he told drugs minister Norman Baker: “A recent report from the All Party Group for Drug Policy Reform recently claimed more than one new substance is coming to Britain each week. Does he share my concern that many legal highs are now purchased online and delivered direct to people’s homes?
“And can I ask if he will look again at the Misuse of Drugs Act, to see if it is fit for purpose given the new Web-based market for legal highs?”
In reply, Mr Baker, a Liberal D e m o c r a t , expressed sympathy for the death of Mr Ferguson, in June last year, after he was taken ill at a house in Heathfield Road.
And he pointed out the Home Office had triggered its “drugs early warning system”
at 6pm on the day it learned of the death.
This is a system designed to speed up the forensic identification of substances linked to sudden deaths and involve an advisory council, if necessary.
However, Mr Baker acknowledged that alpha methyltrptamine – the recreational drug thought to have been taken by Doug – remained legal.
And he told Mr Brine: “I’m not sure that I accept the premise that we are the hub, as he described it.
“In terms of Internet sales, only one per cent of drugs are sourced in this way.
“Nevertheless, we take this avenue seriously.”
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