A DEADLY “legal high” blamed for the death of a Southampton teenager is poised to be banned.
Drugs experts rule that the notorious substance AMT is so dangerous it should be upgraded to the same category as cocaine and heroin.
It marks a victory for the Daily Echo’s Say No to Legal Highs campaign demanding tougher laws and licensing rules on the lethal drugs, which have claimed the lives of several young people in Hampshire.
We launched our campaign after Adam Hunt, 18, died in after taking he took AMT – a powerful hallucinogen which acts in the same way as LSD A post-mortem revealed the Saints fan died of multiple organ failure after taking a dose of almost one gram bought on the Internet.
Now experts at the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) have ruled the substance should be reclassified as a Class A drug.
Home Office minister Norman Baker has voiced his concern that AMT is still legally available, paving the way for a ban later this year.
He said: “The Government is determined to clamp down on so-called ‘legal highs’, which is why I commissioned a review to see how best we can combat this dangerous trade.”
Trainee doctor Doug Ferguson, 19, from Chandler’s Ford, died after taking the drug in June 2012 after being taken ill at a house in Heathfield Road.
Married father William Nutter, 32, from Andover, died after consuming AMT the following month.
The ACMD has also recommended action to outlaw several “highly potent” legal highs readily available to buy in the county’s shops, as well as online.
They include 5–MeO–DALT, known as “Rockstar” or “Green–Beans”.
Some of these tryptamines are already covered, but the council wants the description of the family to be expanded to ensure newly created substances are banned.
Professor Les Iversen, the ACMD’s chairman, said: “People should be under no illusion, these substances marketed as ‘legal highs’ can cause serious damage to your health and in some cases, even death.
“The UK is leading the way by using generic definitions to ban groups of similar compounds to ensure we keep pace with the fast moving marketplace for these drugs.”
That message was echoed by Mr Baker, who said: “Despite being marketed as legal alternatives to banned drugs, users cannot be sure what so-called ‘legal highs’ contain and the impact they will have on their health.”
The Home Office said Mr Baker would consider the recommendation, but the likelihood is that a ban will be introduced within weeks or months.
The number of deaths in Britain associated with to legal highs rose from ten in 2009 to 68 in 2012, the latest figures show.
The Daily Echo is calling for tougher laws, vendors and sellers to be held to account and tighter controls to stop vulnerable youngsters from being able to buy the products over the counter.