Campaigners say it is vital the government and local enforcers get tough on legal high suppliers.
A core part of The News’ campaign against the deadly substances is ensuring that legislation is passed that ensures tough penalties are imposed.
I don’t think we have the problem like Portsmouth has with the rise in head shops, but they are covertly being sold under the counter in parts of Fareham.Fareham MP Suella Fernandes
The Psychoactive Substances Bill, which seeks to impose a blanket ban on the production, distribution, sale and supply of legal highs, is currently going through parliament and is at the second reading stage in the House of Commons.
It has already passed through the House of Lords – but concerns have already been raised about the length of time the process is taking.
And we also want to see the government providing the police and councils with the necessary tools to enforce the clampdown.
Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt has backed the need for a disciplined approach.
She said: ‘It’s great to raise awareness, and it’s good getting into schools and being on the front foot of the issue is really important.
‘But we need to do more than that with regards to these, particularly suppliers.
‘The difficulty of legislating, particularly legislating against a particular compound, is that once you impose a ban it just has to be tweaked slightly in order to make a new substance. What has worked well in other countries is focusing on the suppliers selling the legal high.
‘These people are avoiding any kind of responsibility.’
Fareham MP Suella Fernandes – who saw at first-hand the problems legal high use causes after spending a day with police – suspects the drug is being sold ‘under the counter’ in some parts of Fareham’s town centre.
She said: ‘I feel very strongly about this.
‘I saw first-hand the huge impact this is having on the police. The police have time, but they can’t currently charge you if you are in possession of a legal high. They can charge you if you deal or harm someone under the influence, but unlike cannabis, if you are taking a legal high you can’t do anything.
‘I saw someone high on legal highs and it was horrendous to watch.’
‘I want to see a blanket ban and I want for there to be penalties on people supplying it. That’s absolutely important and this is what the bill amounts to. We have a really big problem here. We can’t ignore it.’
Ms Fernandes added: ‘I don’t think we have the problem like Portsmouth has with the rise in head shops, but they are covertly being sold under the counter in parts of Fareham.’
Meanwhile, young people who have taken legal highs have spoken about the effect they’ve had on their lives and how addicted they’ve become.
One youngster said: ‘There are some mornings where the night before it’s worn off, and a few hours later I feel really bad in myself on the come down.’
Another anonymous user said: ‘I feel really bad inside like I’m never going to be able to get off it, I’m never going to be able to get myself away from it because it’s so addictive.’
And another shows how the drug causes paranoia.
They said: ‘At times I’m worried people are looking at me or saying something about me.’