LONDON, November 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
Angelus, UK's lead legal highs charity, estimates there are over 250 shops selling legal stimulants, synthetic cannabis and hallucinogens. This is the first national measure of the numbers of headshops selling these untested, psychoactive substances. They are often located in affluent towns such as Leamington Spa, Chester and Guildford.
The total is likely to be much lower than the actual figure because it is not possible to include market stalls and under-the-counter sales. It has been reported these substances have been sold in a wide range of retail outlets such as sex shops, petrol garages and shoe repair shops.
The publication of the estimate precedes legislation to be debated on 25 November, which would stop the sale of legal highs in high street headshops. Last year, in England and Wales, there were 52 deaths from legal highs, compared to 29 the previous year, and a further 47 in Scotland. The UN Office and Drugs and Crime last month estimated the numbers of young people in UK (aged 15-24) who have taken a legal high as 670,000 - making us the highest consumers in Europe. As well as loss of life, these substances can cause anything from long-term psychosis, paranoia, deep depression, irreparable bladder damage and impaired eyesight.
Angelus is the only charity dedicated to raising awareness of legal highs and club drugs. Angelus last month launched a free parents' handbook, 'Talking to your Children about legal highs and club drugs', in partnership with the charity Adfam and the Club Drug Clinic, which can be downloaded.
The founder of Angelus, Maryon Stewart, said: "All parents would be horrified to learn there is a shop in their town selling dangerous but perfectly legal substances to young people. These are not just on sale in the run-down end of inner cities but also in affluent places like Chester, Guildford and Canterbury. We have been contacted by a great many families who have suffered tragedies after their children bought legal highs from headshops. These retailers are making fools of young people, their parents and the law. That is why the new law is so necessary. Angelus is fully behind the new law to stop the trade in psychoactive and intoxicating substances. Either we just let the numbers of headshops rise inexorably or we take swift decisive action against them."
Notes to Editors:
1) The author and broadcaster Maryon Stewart lost her 21-year-old daughter, Hester, to GBL in 2009 and established the Angelus Foundation. It is the only charity dedicated to combating legal highs and club drugs and launched a national campaign in October including the website http://www.whynotfindout.org. There is also a site for families http://www.angelusfoundation.com.
2) Angelus compiled the list of headshops between October and November 2013 through trawling internet sites and by liaison with Trading Standards offices around the country. The list will be reviewed on a six monthly basis.
3) The Lords Committee Stage of the Anti Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill on 25 November will include consideration of a New Clause whose objective is to stop the trade in high street sales of legal highs. It is an Opposition amendment.
4) The Angelus parents booklet, produced in partnership with Adfam and the Club Drug Clinic sets out the context of legal highs and how to hold conversations with young people about them. It can be downloaded for free at http://www.angelusfoundation.org/parents.
If you wish to interview Maryon Stewart, please contact:
Aimee Gentry at the Angelus Foundation on:
The Angelus Foundation is a UK registered charity
Registered in England and Wales no. 1139830
SOURCE The Angelus Foundation