Push is on to get new laws imposed on drugs

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CAMPAIGNERS have stepped up their bid to ensure the law gets tough on shops selling legal highs.

Ideas gathered from a meeting between community leaders have been submitted to the government as part of its review of unclassified drugs – also known as new psychoactive substances.

As reported in The News, the Home Office is leading a study into how the UK’s laws and enforcement against legal highs can be improved. Two fathers from Portsmouth have urged for a change in the law after their sons started taking legal highs.

Options include expanding legislation to ensure police and law enforcement agencies have better powers.

Portsmouth City Council, Hampshire Constabulary, drug addiction services and city MP Penny Mordaunt have suggested shops that sell legal highs should be licensed – ensuring they have greater responsibility over sales of legal highs. They want to see greater research being carried out into the long-term effects of taking them, better treatments for addiction and earlier intervention.

It’s also been suggested in-depth research should be carried out into what causes young people to misuse substances, and how to police the marketing of legal highs online.

Ms Mordaunt, who represents Portsmouth North, and who chaired the meeting with community leaders, said: ‘There is probably still a bit more that can be done to tackle this issue within the existing framework.

‘Things such as enforcing what is going on in the shops an making sure things aren’t on display, and that’s something that seems to have worked well elsewhere.

‘Legal highs are a growing problem.

‘While there is no proper sort of regulation, shops can sell all sorts of stuff, with just a caveat saying this isn’t fit for human consumption.

‘People then walk out with the clear intention of using whatever it is they have bought for consumption.

‘If shops are licensed, then they are responsible for what they are selling, which I think is right.’

The move comes after Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham saw an increase in patients going to the A&E department after taking legal highs.