Thursday, June 25, 2015

VSA Headlines - June 2015

If you're interested in contributing to understanding about legal highs and their use, please consider taking part in one of the following surveys:

Open until 30th June "to gain insights from people in England into the range of perceptions and experiences of ‘legal high’ substances".

"Britain’s draft blanket ban on legal highs including laughing gas and poppers threatens to send the trade underground. Share your experiences of buying and taking legal highs" with the Guardian.


The Government's proposed New Psychoactive Substances Bill continues to be debated, with perspectives including:

The new Psychoactive Substances Bill – a quick introduction from the Centre for Public Health blog.

Comment: NPS Bill from Harry Shapiro's blog.

LGA calls for updated laws to tackle 'legal highs': "Councils desperately need new powers to crack-down on the sale of new psychoactive substances which are untested, unpredictable and are linked to a growing number of deaths."

Blanket ban will make it simpler for law enforcement to deal with unsafe drugs: NPCC Lead for New Psychoactive Substances,  Commander Simon Bray, discusses the dangers of so-called 'legal highs' after the UK Government has today published a bill to introduce a blanket ban.

Angelus’ Success in Campaigning to Tackle Open Sale of ‘Legal Highs’: Following an intense six year campaign, the team at the Angelus Foundation welcomes the Government plans to legislate against the sale of new psychoactive substances, which most young people call ‘legal highs’.

Independent trade welcomes ‘legal high’ ban: The independent trade has welcomed moves by the new Conservative government to introduce a blanket ban on the production, distribution, sale and supply of so-called “legal highs”, reports today’s Independent Retail News.

Wirral health chiefs welcome blanket ban on sale of 'legal highs': Wirral health chiefs have welcomed Government legislation banning the sale of so-called 'legal highs'.

Ban legal highs before people die, urges dad of teen rushed to hospital after taking '420'.

Special Report - legal highs in Manchester: [Homeless charity] manager said he welcomed the legal-high ban being brought in by the government.

Psychoactive Substances Bill: What's banned and how are they checked? The government is setting out new drug laws on Friday which seek to ban all psychoactive substances - or drugs which affect the human brain.

What’s wrong with the Psychoactive Substances Bill? All kinds of sensory experiences can affect thinking and impair judgement. Drinking, obviously; the inhalation of cannabis; and perhaps even the sight of a new Home Office bill.

Academy concerns over Psychoactive Substances Bill: The Academy and other research organisations have written to the Home Secretary, Rt Hon Theresa May MP, to highlight concerns over unintended but damaging consequences for medical research of the Psychoactive Substances Bill

Should we ban ‘legal highs’? There has for some time now been a call both nationally and internationally to have a thorough re-examination of how ‘society’ and its ‘law makers’ tackle drug use; and then how we deal with the often catastrophic resulting effects on the lives of individuals their families and communities.

Lord Paddick: Psychoactive Substances Bill is not evidence led and it should be: Former Metropolitan Police Officer and Lib Dem peer Lord Paddick is critical of the new legal highs bill and says it shows the Government has 'no interest in an evidence-led approach'.

The House of Lords spent a fair bit of time this week debating Ireland’s head shop laws: Molly Meacher (Baroness Meacher), a former social worker, said experts had warned “the web trade in synthetic psychoactive substances is apparently thriving in Ireland”. Call to halt legal highs ban based on 'flawed' Irish system.

Drug campaigners back 'legal high' warning: Drug campaigners today backed the warning from police chiefs that new Government powers to ban legal highs will not work.

Here’s what drug and legal experts actually think of the blanket ban on legal highs: The government’s psychoactive substances bill will ban all new psychoactive substances. We asked seven experts what they thought of the proposed law.

Along with hundreds of others, I'll be inhaling laughing gas outside Parliament to protest the Tories' legal high bill: Their proposed ban is an affront to our right to do whatever we want with our bodies

Legal highs ban could be 'a disaster' for North East claims Newcastle dealer: “At the end of the day we live in an imperfect world, we are just making it safer. Unless we can get rid of every single drug on this planet people will still use them.”


Parklife 2015: Woman seriously ill in hospital after drinking the sniffing drug poppers at Heaton Park festival: Police say they confiscated 400 bottles of poppers which were being sold on site by the festival.

Stories about nitrous oxide being stolen from hospitals came from BridlingtonCornwallCumbria, East Kilbride and Grimsby.

Other legal highs

Father sends ‘legal highs’ danger alert after son’s death: A father whose teenage son died after taking drugs has sent a stark warning to other parents of children using “legal highs” from the internet.

Young driver killed himself and two friends in 97mph crash after he 'inhaled hippy crack while at the wheel': A young driver thought to have inhaled the legal high nitrous oxide at the wheel of his car hit speeds of 97mph before ploughing into an oncoming vehicle - killing himself and two friends.

2nd National New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) Conference: Responding Positively to the "Ripple Effect" held jointly between legal highs awareness charity, Angelus, and Northamptonshire based charity, Solve It.

Novel Psychoactive Substance use amongst clients accessing Changing Lives services in Newcastle – September 2014: A new study undertaken by Soundingboard Research & Consultancy and commissioned by Changing Lives to gain a better understanding of the use of Novel Psychoactive Substances (‘legal highs’) amongst individuals accessing a number of its services.

Increase in 'legal high' drugs seized at UK borders: The number of 'legal high' substances seized at Britain's borders has increased by three-quarters, according to new figures.

Special Report - legal highs in Manchester: True toll hidden by confusion and lack of official figures: Health services have no clear picture of the numbers of legal-high admissions they are dealing with, the M.E.N. has discovered - despite anecdotal evidence of a significant rise.

New campaign launches in Hertfordshire to tackle legal highs: The new campaign, set up by Hertfordshire Constabulary, with the support of the County Council, Trading Standards, and charity Spectrum, is called Why Gamble With Your Life, and is aimed to educate 14-35-year olds on the dangers of taking legal highs.

Legal high shop closed by Scots police in first case since ban was proposed in Queen's speech: By using existing legislation, police in Scotland have been able to act ahead of the ban on legal highs trailed in last week’s Queen’s Speech.

Hollyoaks plans 'legal highs' storyline for Holly Cunningham: Hollyoaks teen Holly Cunningham will head down a darker path this summer when she starts taking legal highs.


Huffing played a role in drowning death of Togiak teen, VPSO says (AK): Togiak teen was huffing gas before falling in creek, drowning, VPSO says.

Supreme Court: Huffing from aerosol cans can lead to DUI charge: The Montana Supreme Court has ruled that a person can be charged with driving under the influence for huffing aerosol propellants.

Motoring offences related to VSA were reported in AR, MI, MTNJOH and WY.

Other legal highs

Chasing the synthetic high: ‘Legal’ drugs are causing trouble for law enforcement: Constantly changing cocktails of ingredients with unpredictable effects are meant to mimic more established illicit drugs


Alarm over rise in glue sniffing: A surge in teenagers sniffing glue and getting high on petrol fumes has sparked calls for heightened parental vigilance over the summer holidays.


Phi Phi laughing gas goes viral, prompts warning nitrous oxide can be lethal: Photos of three young foreign women on Phi Phi Island reportedly under the effects of inhaling nitrous oxide, better known “laughing gas”, have gone viral on social media, prompting officials to issue a health warning.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

VSA Headlines - May 2015


In the Queen’s Speech on 27 May 2015, the government announced that "new legislation will … ban the new generation of psychoactive drugs."

(In December 2013, the government tasked a panel of experts to "[look] at whether, and if so, how the legislative framework for responding to these new drugs could be enhanced." The Expert Panel Report, outlining the relevant issues and making recommendations can be read here.)

The proposed new bill itself can be read here, there is additional supporting information here, and the progress of the bill through parliament can be followed here.

Re-Solv is seeking to clarify the position of volatile substances, in particular butane, under the terms of the proposed Bill.


Volatile Substance Abuse in I Science: Last month, nitrous oxide (also known as ‘laughing gas’, or for some reason, ‘hippy crack’) emerged as the second most popular drug amongst young people in the UK, behind only cannabis, with 6.1% of people aged 16-24 admitting to having taken it in the last year.

Prison warning for gas sniffing flat firestarter: A gas-sniffing addict’s flat went up in flames after he messed around with a cigarette lighter while inhaling butane.

Gas-guzzling petrol addict arrested again for drinking from the fuel pumps: The 45-year-old ended up in court on New Year's Eve for flouting an order banning him from all garage pumps.

Glastonbury among 40 festivals to campaign against legal highs: Organisers of music events also including Bestival and T in the Park will replace homepages with warning of the dangers of substances such as nitrous oxide.

Other legal highs

Cardiff man died after taking legal designer drug 'five times stronger than heroin': [He] was found dead at his home in Cardiff on February 9 after taking a cocktail of drugs.

Falkirk police investigate alleged ‘legal high drug’ death: A 25-year-old man died at Forth Valley Royal Hospital last Thursday just days after having reportedly purchased a so-called legal high from a Falkirk shop.

What exactly are legal highs? Producers and suppliers of so-called legal highs could face up to seven years in jail under new legislation proposed by the government.

Legal highs are being banned, here's what you've told us about them (Newsbeat).

Legal high ban urged by councils in England and Wales: The Local Government Association (LGA) said current legislation was "not fit" for tackling the growing numbers of deaths linked to the substances.

First UK legal high prosecution secured in Belfast: Two men and a woman were given community service orders in a groundbreaking case over the sale of £400,000 worth of so-called legal highs in Belfast.

Legal high report reveals fears over use of drugs across the North East: For the first time a report has shown how use of the over-the-counter drugs is leading to a catalogue of crime, hospital admissions and mental health problems. Read the full report from Changing Lives here.

Northamptonshire charity fighting dangers of legal-highs awarded £240,000 grant from Big Lottery Fund: Solve It has been awarded the cash by the Big Lottery Fund and the windfall will help support its work to tackle the growing problem of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) over the next three years.

Legal highs: How dangerous are they?

New film warns of 'legal highs' risk: An interactive online film for teenagers which highlights the dangers of "legal highs" has been launched.

Legal high ‘epidemic’ for young prisoners: “Epidemic” levels of legal highs are putting Wigan prisoners and staff at risk, it was claimed this week.

'Our purity is above 99%': the Chinese labs churning out legal highs for the west.


People are sniffing cheap butane gas to get high on the streets of Dublin: The “old-school” gas sniffing is on the rise, says Ana Liffey director, Tony Duffin.


LPG Dependence after a Suicide Attempt: Case Reports in Psychiatry, Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 643253.


Nebraska City woman dies abusing inhalant [NE]: Authorities in Nebraska City are investigating what they are calling an accidental death on Sunday.

Teens unaware that 'huffing' is deadly [LA]: Now the family of an eighth grader who lost his life is speaking out to teens and their parents about something called "huffing," and they say teachers and parents need to be concerned.

Motoring offences caused by VSA were reported in FLKY, MIMT, OHOK and SD.


Audit puts a cap on petrol-sniffing: The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet's (PM&C) management of initiatives to supply low aromatic fuel (LAF) to Indigenous communities to reduce petrol-sniffing has been found to be effective and well-documented.


Other legal highs

Synthetic drug ban success - study: A new study shows that getting synthetic cannabis off the shelves has virtually stopped the flow of users needing mental health care.

VSA Headlines - April 2015


'Hippy crack' craze will kill more teens, warns doctor: Experts predict rise in deaths linked to nitrous oxide which has already killed 17 people this year.

Glastonbury bans 'hippie crack' from 'sacred' festival space: Seemingly objecting most to the silver canisters left behind by users of the legal high, Liz Eliot, the co-ordinator of Glastonbury’s Green Fields, wrote a statement for music fans warning that nitrous oxide is also nearly 300 times more damaging to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

Amazon's 'hippy crack' for 30p a hit deal is slammed by drug charities and grieving mother: The 'laughing gas' is sold to help pump whipped cream but web shoppers can also buy the cartridges with a cracker – a ­dispenser that can fill balloons

Investigation reveals dangers of 'hippy crack' craze putting country's youngsters at risk: Discarded metal canisters around city streets lay bare the soaring popularity of dangerous legal high.

'He needs to apologise': Drugs charity calls on 'role model' England star Raheem Sterling to apologise after video of him 'inhaling hippy crack' emerges.

Jack Grealish caught up in 'hippy crack' controversy as Aston Villa star pictured inhaling nitrous oxide on night out.

EastEnders' Lorna Fitzgerald pictured taking 'hippy crack' as show bosses launch probe.

Why are so many people using laughing gas? After Raheem Sterling was filmed apparently inhaling nitrous oxide, a drugs expert says the gas has become ubiquitous, warning of possible dangers

Other legal highs

Two cousins found dead 'after taking legal highs at house party' - and third man in hospital: Police are today probing the death of two men suspected of taking a lethal batch of "legal highs" at a house party.

Mother-of-one, 18, 'has two heart attacks and dies after taking former legal high M-Cat at a house party': An 18-year-old mother-of-one had two heart attacks before dying from multiple organ failure after taking M-Cat at a house party, her family have said.

Parents of teen found dead in housing estate in Newtownards call for ban on legal highs: The parents of a teenager found dead in the middle of a housing estate have blamed legal highs and pleaded for them to be banned.

Stoke-on-Trent kids quizzed on scale of legal high use in the city: More than 2,000 pupils aged 11 to 16 in secondary schools were questioned by Stoke-on-Trent City Council as part of the authority's biennial Stoke-on-Trent Young People's Lifestyle Survey.

Guilty pleas in ground-breaking legal high case: Guilty pleas have been entered in a ground-breaking prosecution over the sale of so-called legal highs in Belfast, the High Court has heard.

New Addaction project aims to raise awareness of legal high risks: Addaction operations manager Darren Jones said: "We will be getting out to colleges, clubs, pubs, and anywhere else in the community where there may be people affected to offer support.

Lincoln legal high ban comes into force: The UK's first city-wide ban on people taking legal highs in public has come into force.

Teenager's story of being hospitalised after taking legal high is worth a hundred "just say no to drugs" messages, says Abbie Wightwick.

My brother died in agony from £2 legal high and I don't want another family to go through same heartache: The family of a man who died in agony after taking a £2 legal high are backing our campaign to get all such drugs banned, writes Phil Cardy in the Sunday People .

Legal highs trader urges change in law to help customers ‘make an informed choice’: “If we had the same responsibility as those selling alcohol have, we could say: ‘I think this will be too strong for you’ or, ‘you only need a little bit at a time’ and, ‘maybe you should give it a rest for a bit’ or ‘I think you’ve had enough already’, but we are not allowed to by law.”


Huntington driver who caused fatal crash after inhaling cleaning product to be sentenced today (NY): A 20 year old Huntington driver, who admitted he inhaled an aerosol keyboard cleaner before he  broadsided a Commack woman’s car, killing her, will be sentenced today.

Mom admits to inhaling dust cleaner while watching her baby, authorities say (NJ): A 22-year-old Sparta woman pleaded guilty to child neglect charges that stemmed from a December 2014 incident in which police said she'd inhaled dust cleaner while she was taking care of her 20-month-old daughter.

Alleged ‘huffers’ arrested in Lake Worth on child neglect charges [FL]: Two people were arrested in Lake Worth Tuesday after Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputies found them semiconscious in an apartment littered with Dust-Off cans the couple were allegedly using to get high, according to an arrest report. Lying on the floor among the cans of the compressed gas cleaner was a crying 1-year-old.

Man found passed out in Abilene after inhaling 32 cans of solvent [TX]: [He] reportedly admitted to police that he is addicted to inhaling solvents and that the 32 cans were his.

Man, 21, accused of huffing gasoline (FL): A 21-year-old Ocala man who told a sheriff’s deputy that he was snorting gasoline from a lawnmower because “it makes him see things” was charged with inhaling harmful material/chemical.

Motoring offences caused by VSA were reported in CA, MI, MT and NC.


Main Street sniffing 'out of control' says Winnipeg worker: Predatory solvent pushers are destroying the lives of some of the city's most at-risk people and no one is doing anything to stop it, says a woman who works on Winnipeg's Main Street downtown. Another story on this topic by CBC can be read here.

Natuashish youth found sniffing gas at abandoned home: The Innu Nation deputy chief in the small Labrador community of Natuashish says enough is enough and something more needs to be done after he found a group of youth sniffing gas at an abandoned home.


Other legal highs

Auckland Council decides legal high areas: Auckland Council has decided where legal highs can be sold if they become licensed again later this year.


Substance abuse common among street children: Study [New Delhi]: Tobacco and alcohol followed by cannabis and inhalants, sedatives, heroin and opium are the most common items of substance abuse among children on streets, according to a study by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.