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The Devastating Effects of “Legal Highs”

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In UK Care proceeding cases drug testing is carried out regularly, however in the past this has focused on Drugs of Abuse Testing only. The new wave of “Legal  Highs” and the mountains of evidence on their effects may very well change this.  Legal highs are substances and chemicals used to mimic the effects of illegal drugs such as cocaine or cannabis. They are often sold as “Bath Salts” or “Poparee” also referred to as “fake weed” or “legal bud”.

The name “legal” gives the impression these substances are harmless. The truth in fact is far from that. Just because they are legal does not mean they are safe, it just means they have not been declared illegal for use and possession. But what many don’t consider is that they are still illegal if sold under the medicine category.  Many “legal high” substances often contain chemicals that are illegal to posses. With no understanding of the effects or human trials conducted many users are finding their world destroyed as a result. The impact on family and children is even more significant that illegal drugs given the mind set that the user is “not doing anything wrong” combined with the potency of the formula.  Some well known previous legal highs such are now controlled and illegal to use or supply such as mephedrone (meow meow), naphyrone, BZP, GBL and synthetic cannabinoids (such as those found in Spice products). Within underground labs across the world, gangs of traditional and new generation drug cartels are working around the clock to come up with the next substance. At the present time all that is needed is a change in chemical formula and you have a new substance that is unregulated. With new versions of substances appearing daily the Police have little power apart from a temporary ban until the drugs can be classed as illegal.
This means the formula of the same street named product will change regularly, the user who was ok the first time could well suffer a fatal incident the next. When we consider the effects for Care Proceeding cases it is really important to understand the intention of the legal highs.

  • They are designed to produce a similar effect to the illegal drug they mimic, therefore similar behavior.
  •  In addition to what is on the contents label they contain synthetic chemical, which have a psychoactive effect.
  • Many are produced to be more extreme than the illegal drug in order to hook the user in.
  • The behavior, irresponsibility, violence and incapacity to care for a child are in many cases the same as the illegal version.

The risks and effects of taking legal highs

  •  Syntehnic Cannabis is often reported as being as powerful as shunk, a very potent form of cannabis.
  • Salvia divinorum is designed to induce hallucinations and has lead to many suicides
  •  Party Powders mimic drugs like cocaine, the effects are similar and have lead to incidents of users running naked through supermarkets unaware of their condition.
  •  Party pills are design to work like ecstasy.
  • GBL (gamma-butyolactone) is a new version of GHB. It causes nausea, coma and death.  Now illegal.
  • BZP (benzylpiperazine) works like ecstasy and has caused numerous reported convulsions, anxiety and memory loss. Now illegal.

Considerations for Family Solicitors involved in Care Proceedings If the effects of these drugs are the same and in many cases more extreme and if the ability to care for a child is compromised, should testing for “Legal Highs” be considered more often when evidence warrants? In addition what happens if one party thinks the other is doing Cannabis or Cocaine when they are instead doing Synthetic Bud or Bath Salts? The DNA Worldwide Group Toxicology laboratory have developed Europe's most advanced test for “Legal Highs” including bath salts and synthetic cannabinoids. To Discuss your case please contact us on 01373 800130 or email legal@dna-worldwide.com .

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