Doncaster businessman told “You can’t have legal highs back’

Legal highs come in a range of types and packaging.
Legal highs come in a range of types and packaging.
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A Doncaster businessman who fought an order to have hundreds of packets of legal highs seized has had his appeal rejected after a judge branded them ‘unsafe and dangerous’.

The council seized almost 300 packets of legal highs - also referred to as Novel Pyschoactive Substances - from town centre premises Heads of Donny.

The business, owned by Robert Gorton, was closed this year following complaints of anti-social behaviour by 
customers. ​ Mr Gorton is the first business owner in the country to contest a legal highs forfeiture order.

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Professor Harry Summall, from Liverpool John Moores University, who is also a member of the Government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, told Doncaster Magistrates’ court in a statement that the products were unsafe and dangerous.

Mr Gorton was in court to hear Judge Jonathan Bennett agree to the order to forfeit all the products due to their ‘unsafe and dangerous’ nature.

The council is now set to have the products destroyed.

Coun Chris McGuinness, cabinet member for communities, the voluntary sector and environment, said: “We are all very pleased with the outcome which has seen these dangerous substances finally being destroyed.

“Every packet of NPS destroyed is one less on the streets of Doncaster, and that can only be a good thing.

“As part of our zero tolerance policy, we are committed to stamping out all forms of illegal trade as we strive to make Doncaster a safer and better place to live.”

Andy Maddison, public health involvement officer for risk taking behaviour, said: “This now means that are no shops in Doncaster that sell NPS overtly.

“They are so much more dangerous than people realise, I think the effects of them have been well-documented, but the innovation with chemical restructuring means that there’s no way of knowing the side-effects of all of them.

“It’s a risk every time someone takes NPS.

“In many ways it’s a hidden problem, because people addicted to them don’t show up in the same places as other drug users – in drug services, for example. They’re more likely to show up in A&E, and even then the symptoms they’re recording may be seen as symptomatic of something else.

“We’ve had reports of someone in Doncaster collapsing from taking Spice just this week. Ninety-eight per cent of the legal highs we’re seeing people taking are cannibanoids.”

Doncaster Central MP Rosie Winterton, who has campaigned for a complete ban on legal highs, said: “So-called legal highs have been a blight on Doncaster’s communities for too long. They can be incredibly dangerous and often pose serious health risks to the people taking them, so it is good news that the substances seized from ‘Heads of Donny’ are to be destroyed.”