A potentially deadly substitute for ecstasy will be banned on Wednesday, it has been revealed.
BZP can also cause seizures and vomiting and had been used as a replacement for ecstasy. It will become an illegal Class C drug and dealers could face 14 years in prison. Anyone possessing it could be locked up for two years.
This year police seized more than three quarters of a million suspected ecstasy tablets which turned out to be BZP.
Detective Inspector Andy Dunlop said: "We now believe this drug had replaced ecstasy in terms of availability and because it was legal. But its classification is about to change.
"Selling or possessing this drug will be a criminal offence which could lead to a jail sentence."
He said taking the drug can result in rare cases in serotonin sydrome (an adverse drug reaction) which can cause death.
A spokesman for the Public Health Agency (PHA) said significant effort had been put into raising awareness, particularly among parents, of the risks and community organisations had been given funding.
"The PHA is aware of increasing concern around a wide range of so-called 'legal high' drugs that are apparently available across Northern Ireland," he said.
"However, the agency welcomes the imminent proscription of the substance BZP which was announced by government earlier this year, as this new measure will contribute further to protecting people from harm."
December 21, 2009
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