Cornwall Council Trading Standards has been working with Devon and Cornwall Police to investigate exactly what is inside ‘legal highs’.
The local team took part in a sampling programme where legal highs were purchased from a variety of outlets across Cornwall and submitted, with assistance from Devon and Cornwall Police, for analysis.
Results showed a wide variety of substances were contained, however many of these were not listed on the packaging, leaving Trading Standards concerned that customers do not truly know what they are taking.
In addition to this, many of the products are sold as “research chemicals” or “plant fertilizer” however they are given trade names which are a play on words with reference to illegal drugs and drug taking, leaving the consumption of the product open to confusion and misinterpretation, with dangerous consequences.
Elizabeth Kirk, Senior Trading Standards Officer said: “The increase in the use of so called ‘Legal Highs’ is of great concern to both ourselves and the Police, as these substances are as easily abused as illegal drugs, and unfortunately many users think that because they are legal, they are safe. Although all the samples tested on this occasion only contain drugs that are legal on the open market in the UK, many of them are illegal in other countries around the world.”
Cornwall Trading Standards is sending out a warning to people about ‘legal highs’ and has called for details of the contents to be listed on the packaging.
Kim Hager, Manager of the Drug and Alcohol Action Team (DAAT) welcomed the initiative and the findings.
Kim said:“It is time for these products to accurately detail their contents, as with any other products on sale for consumption, so that purchasers can make informed choices and minimise the risks to themselves with regard to any particular ingredients.”
Geoff Brown, Cornwall Council Cabinet Member for Homes and Communities said: “Legal highs can carry serious health risks. Just the fact that a substance is sold as legal to possess, doesn’t mean that it’s safe. You can’t really be sure what’s in a ‘legal high’ that you’ve bought, or been given, or what effect it’s likely to have on you.
"I would urge people not to put themselves at risk and never mix alcohol with legal or other substances as the effects can be unpredictable and dangerous.”
This sampling exercise formed part of a Home Office initiative designed to build intelligence that will feed into the regulatory review that is taking place into psychoactive substances.