LONDON, May 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/ --
Angelus, the only UK charity dedicated to raising awareness of the risks from 'legal highs', today welcomed Government plans to legislate against their sale. Angelus has led the call for a strong legal response to the easy availability of these legal substances and has long campaigned for fundamental measures to disrupt the supply of these legal drugs. Angelus described the need to combine the legislation with better public awareness of these harmful substances as "vital".
The legal change, announced in today's Queen's Speech, should effectively shut down the high street trade in 'legal highs'. Angelus surveys have shown a deeply concerning level of experimentation with 'legal highs' - 13.6% of 14-18 year old school students and 19% of University Freshers had tried one.
Angelus advocates a greater commitment from central and local Government, schools and universities, to giving the education which young people need to stay safe from these substances.
Chief Executive of Angelus, Jan King said, "Angelus has been campaigning long and loud for some regulation on the open sale of 'legal highs'. It has been like the Wild West until now, with young people able to access these dangerous products virtually without restriction. So, naturally, we are pleased the new Government has made this issue an early priority. Our Founder, Maryon Stewart, deserves enormous credit for being the driving force behind Angelus and in getting this issue into the national conversation.
"The legal change cannot be expected to extinguish the market entirely; it is not a perfect solution. Some internet trade will remain so it is vital the legal changes are combined with a sustained public awareness campaign. Last week, five students at Lancaster University were hospitalised after collapsing from the effects of synthetic cannabis. Our surveys show young people are still unwittingly taking huge risks by experimenting with legal drugs. Angelus is determined to build up young people's knowledge and resilience to prevent further tragedies from taking these harmful products."
Notes to editors:
1. Maryon Stewart lost her 21 year old daughter, Hester, to GBL in 2009 and established the Angelus Foundation. It is the only drugs charity dedicated to combating legal highs and club drugs. Angelus previously launched a national campaign including the website http://www.whynotfindout.org which includes several films informing young people about how to stay safe. There is also a site for families http://www.angelusfoundation.com where parents can download a free guide to 'Legal Highs' and how to speak to their children about them.
2. Angelus has produced several films making young people more aware of the harms and unpredictability of substances such as Gogaine, Clockwork Orange, Pink Panther and Charley Sheen. Their schools film has been shown to strongly influence attitudes - 95% of those who viewed it away from trying 'legal highs'.
3. The legal change followed a review initiated by former Drugs Minister, Norman Baker and the establishment of an expert panel. The option of a blanket ban on 'legal highs' was considered the best option.