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MPs join debate about what can be done next

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: January 16, 2014

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AT the meeting, members agreed to write to North Devon MP Nick Harvey and Torridge MP Geoffrey Cox to urge them to lobby central Government for the drugs to be made illegal.

Nick Harvey said: "I certainly agree that it is a serious issue, and I have discussed with the police commissioner for Devon and Cornwall the fact Barnstaple seems to have a bigger problem than most.

"If the committee want the legal issues examined by the Government I am happy to press ministers to that effect."

Torridge MP Geoffrey Cox said: "The issue of so-called legal highs is clearly a growing problem, with the availability of these substances radically changing the nature of the drugs market.

"Steps are being taken by the Government to tackle the problem, including an action plan published by the Home Office to combat new psychoactive substances, which sets out our approach to fighting the threat from these emerging substances.

"A review of these substances will be presented to the Home Office in spring and I am hopeful further steps will be taken to tighten legislation and enforcement against these potentially fatal drugs."

Roger Bartlett, North Devon sector inspector, said he could not give an indication as to whether legal highs were more of a problem here than in urban areas.

However he added: "I think within Devon the indication is that North Devon is a bit of a hot spot in terms of the presence of these shops, but you can also buy these substances on the internet so it is impossible to know how much is being used where."

Neighbourhood team leader Ewan Seear said police officers have dealt with a number of people who required medical attention after taking a legal high.

He added: "I can't stress enough that taking any of these substances presents a risk to health – what is in the packaging can change on a day to day basis.

"The effects of taking these substances is utterly untested and in taking any of them you are conducting a chemical experiment with your own body posing a serious risk of injury."

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