Doncaster health professionals welcome ‘legal high’ ban

Legal highs.
Legal highs.
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Leading Doncaster health professionals have welcomed a ban on the use of legal highs due to their potentially ‘catastrophic’ side-effects.

The Pyschoactive Substances Act 2016, which became law on Thursday, made the selling or purchasing of Novel Pyschoactive Substances for human consumption illegal.

Doncaster Council was among the first local authorities to clamp down on the sale of NPS.

The authority worked with South Yorkshire Police to close down town centre shop Heads of Donny in 2014 under anti-social behaviour legislation.

Doncaster Council health involvement director for public health Andy Maddison said the local authority welcomed the introduction of the law.

He said: “The introduction of the ban is very positive, but there’s still a lot of work to do.

“One of the problems we saw with them was the fact that due to the name ‘legal highs’ it gave the wrong impression that they were safe to take.

“We did see a spike in the number of people across Doncaster taking NPS, however that dropped when the closure of head shops such as Heads of Donny came into force.

“I’ve mainly been involved with young people treated for the use of NPS, and the average age of those taking them was about 13 or 14.

“Now that the ban has come into place it will hopefully mean that they’re less easily accessible.

“However if people want to take them, then they’re probably going to do that.

“It’s important for people to know that there are some very good services in Doncaster for people who need support.”

According to the local authority, the ease of purchasing NPS, often from online sites, has been a major selling point to users who often see it as less of a risk than attempting to buy criminalised class A, B or C drugs.

Under the new laws, even giving away NPS for free, for example to a friend, will be illegal.

Dr Dean Eggitt, who represents the borough’s doctors nationally in his role as a medical secretary, described the new law as good news for Doncaster.

He said: “I think the new law is absolutely brilliant.

“These drugs – and I think we should use the term drugs – can have catastrophic side effects that can result in death.

“The main problem with them is the fact they are not tested and we have no way of knowing what they contain.”