Legal highs and the damage they are causing to young people have been raised by a Milton Keynes MP in Parliament.
In a question to Norman Baker, Minister of State, Home Department, Milton Keynes South MP Iain Stewart said: “In tackling the scourge of legal highs, may I urge the Minister to look at the work that Thames Valley police and Milton Keynes council have been doing to rid our communities of these substances?
“I have seen many distressing cases in my surgery of bright young people having been dragged into a downward spiral because they have had easy access to these drugs.”
In response, Mr Baker said: “I welcome the steps being taken in Milton Keynes by Thames Valley police.
“I know that they raided the central Milton Keynes market and seized various chemical high products when young people were spotted using pills and powders that they thought had been bought from market stalls.
“That is a good example of what can be done with existing legislation.
“We have also banned hundreds of these substances as we have found them, but there is more to do, which is why I have set up this expert review panel.”
Milton Keynes Council’s Trading Standards team and Thames Valley Police seized thousands of pounds worth of items in a swoop on market stalls last summer.
Officers raided stalls in the Central Milton Keynes Market and the Agora Centre, Wolverton, after tip-offs from police that youngsters had been spotted using various pills and powders.
In total 220 packets of powders and pills, worth between £4,500 and £6,500, were seized from the market and eight packets were found at Wolverton Agora.
Although the items themselves are not illegal, for example some of them were being marketed as ‘room deodorisers’, officers still seized them because of health concerns under product safety legislation.
Speaking at the time, Detective Inspector Simon Roberts said: “Psychoactive substances are synthetic drugs which do not sit under the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) 1971.
“These substances mimic both the effects and addictions of banned drugs, such as cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamine and cannabis, and have been emerging at the rate of one a week nationally.
“Although these substances are often referred to as legal highs, the harm, both physical and psychological, they can cause mirrors those substances banned under the MDA.
“When one substance is banned or classified under MDA, another one is produced that has similar effects but which is designed to avoid the scope of the ban.
“Lack of knowledge, both from users and medical staff, is a danger itself. Since the drugs are new and there is no experience of using or treating, they are extra dangerous.“