Psychoactive Substances Bill

Written evidence submitted by Sandra Heyward JP, Cornwall Councillor for the Gover Division (PSB 13)

I am writing in support of the bill to prevent the legal highs from being sold openly on our high streets along with the paraphalia. Here in St Austell Cornwall, I have come across the results of their use as a Cornwall Councillor and a board member of a charity that deals with homelessness, people with chaotic lifestyles, drug addiction and alcoholism.

Please do not underestimate the dangers of these substances, with their unknown ingredients. Our local trading standards have taken samples from the shop in our town and tested, as soon as a banned substance is found it is taken off, taken back to the drawing board as it were, made up of different substances and these could be anything, re packaged in similar packaging and name and once again sold to all. These substances are very cheap compared with the normal illegal substances and the ease with which they are purchased makes them very easy to access.

The results of taking these substances have been brought to my notice, the most worrying thing being the hardened drug users are taking them and consequently in most cases with catastrophic effect. People have been found in a catatonic state, ambulances called, but the problem being the unknown ingredients of the substance taken, the mental health issues that also have resulted from the taking of these substances has been very visible causing serious problems and concerns with the supporting people who support these people through their addictions. In particular a case was reported to me that the persons mental health and general wellbeing was of great concern to all concerned, the person was eventually persuaded to go back to the normal methadone or heroin or cocaine usage, the result with the persons compliance, after a few weeks of abstinence of the so called legal highes, he was in a much better state particularly mentally.

So far there have been no deaths attributed to these, although I do know of the death of a drug user who towards the end of his life played with psychoactive substances bought over the counter, not using them as they were supposed to be used by smoking etc, but by injection this resulted in septasemia and ultimately his death. I am not saying that this was a direct result of taking these substances, however although a drug user of many years, this may have contributed to his untimely passing.

The shops that openly sell these in our towns are selling to anyone who comes through the door to buy. The police are at a loss as to what to do, I believe that in places like Exeter and Plymouth they have managed to closed the premises down through the use of the new Anti Social behaviour Orders.

I know that my local MP Steve Double also has an issue with this, in fact he went under cover and bought some himself.

This is something that our youngsters will try it being classed as legal and well within their purse, like cannibus, cheaper than alcohol but in this case with devastating effects.

I really hope that you will see fit to ban the open sale of these.

October 2015

Prepared 27th October 2015