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Councillor considers shop picket

By Katia Harston, Chief Reporter Wednesday 2nd April 2014
Legal Highs

A COUNCILLOR is considering picketing a town centre shop which sells legal highs because he fears it is only a matter of time until a young person dies taking them.


Coun Tim Cheetham is 'deeply worried' about adults buying the so-called legal highs from Smokey Sams on the Arcade and giving them to under-18s.


Ambulances have already been called out to nearby Mandela Gardens because young people, some only 13, have collapsed after taking them in the public park.


There were two incidents within days of each other where ambulances had to be called - one on Friday, March 14 and another on Monday, March 17.


Coun Cheetham said: "It is a huge concern for us. Clearly there needs to be a change in the law so we can do something.
"There is no research into what damage they can do, both short and long term.


"There is no regulation of the production of this stuff or tests into the strength. One batch could be very different to the next.
"It is lethal. It is just a matter of time until one of our young people dies."


The so-called legal highs, generally marketed as herbal incense, bath salts or plant food 'not for human consumption', give a similar effect to illegal drugs such as cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy.


Smokey Sams owner, Steve Shannon, recently came under fire from neighbouring businesses on the Arcade who claimed the sale of legal highs at his shop attracts groups of young people congregating on Mandela Gardens to take them. They also believe it has caused a spike in rowdy behaviour.


But Mr Shannon said antisocial behaviour has been an issue at Mandela Gardens for years prior to his arrival last summer and feels he is being made a scapegoat for recent problems.