Should we be concerned that a ‘head shop’ selling legal highs has opened in the centre of Havant?
Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner Simon Hayes clearly thinks so.
He has called for laws to be brought in to licence such businesses and give powers to police, trading standards and local authorities to regulate them.
Mr Hayes has urged the government not to shy way from tackling the growing use of such substances and said: ‘There should be no leeway in the law when looking at anything that is mind-altering.’
He has also talked of those who trade in these unregulated substances ‘putting profit before the public’s health and wellbeing.’
But Gypsy King’s Coffee Shop owner Peter Stanley insists he’s not doing anything wrong – and therein lies the problem. Because there is no control over such establishments, they are perfectly entitled to trade in potentially harmful substances.
Of course, there is a moral question here. It may be legal to sell them, but what if those buying are vulnerable people who need protection?
Let’s be under no illusions. People have died after taking legal highs. Yet it’s still possible to go into shops and walk out with them with no questions asked.
Mr Hayes is not a lone voice in this debate. Campaigners have already been calling for tougher laws to apply to those selling legal highs and for tighter controls to be introduced over what can be bought over the counter.
We agree this is an area that needs urgent attention.
The government cannot stand by while people put themselves at risk.
It needs to seek expert advice and deal with what is clearly a pressing matter.
Because if no action is taken, the danger is that the use of legal highs will grow and grow.
There are already stark warnings from The Centre For Social Justice that deaths linked to legal highs could soon overtake those linked to heroin.
With hospital admissions rising and the number of ‘head shops’ increasing, doing nothing is not an option.
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