Legal Highs back on the Radar in UK

By Mona Lisa · Oct 7, 2008 · Updated Oct 14, 2008 · ·
  1. Mona Lisa
    Doctors' worries over legal highs

    Legal 'herbal' drugs are sold at many UK festivals

    So called legal or herbal highs are often as chemical and dangerous as illegal drugs, doctors have told Newsbeat.

    The pills or liquid can be bought online, in shops or at festivals and although they claim to be natural GPs warn they often contain damaging ingredients.

    The chances are if you've been to a festival this summer you'll have come across stalls selling herbal highs.
    Twenty-five-year-old Alex from Birmingham bought herbal ecstasy with friends at the V Festival last summer.
    She said: "We'd been drinking, thought it'd be a good idea - a bit of a laugh.

    "There was a stall selling them, so we all thought it was fairly legitimate."

    Her and her mates bought one pack each which contained eight pills. They were told to take them all at once. But hours later they all started feeling ill.

    "Initially it was really good - you know, we were a bit tingly, a bit happy. A few hours later everyone started feeling really quite poorly.

    "I had a really bad upset stomach - there was sickness, diarrhoea and headaches, high temperatures and just generally feeling really quite horrible."

    Synthetic chemicals

    The pills Alex and her mates bought were advertised as herbal - so they assumed they'd be safe. But doctors say that's not always the case.

    John Ramsey, a drug expert at St George's Hospital in London, showed Newsbeat some of the legal highs people had brought into the hospital.

    "These things are packets of tablets and capsules sold as herbal highs, but are in no way herbal. These things are purely synthetic chemicals," he said.

    start_quote.gif One of the drugs we've seen is an amphetamine with a chloride compound end_quote.gif

    Dr Paul Dargan

    Products like this are legal in the UK.

    But there's no long-term research into how they could affect your health.

    Experts say they're worried about the similarities between some of them and banned drugs.

    Dr Paul Dargan, a clinical toxicologist, said: "One of the drugs we've seen is an amphetamine with a chloride compound attached to the side of it, so it's structurally very similar to an amphetamine."

    Companies Newsbeat has spoken to said all the ingredients were listed on their packets - which always carried a warning.

    But there are calls for tighter controls over the content and sale of legal highs. One of the main ingredients in many products is the compound BZP. That's being banned in March although doctors are worried new and potentially dangerous chemicals are being made to replace it.

    By Briar Burley
    Newsbeat reporter

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  1. JoeNeal
    Swim listened to similar article on bbc radio today that went on to mention new generation of drugs just coming onto the 'legal high' market which are based on synthesis of active compound found in khat weed, a possible replacement for bzp when it gets banned in uk next year? Can any swiys out there think which commercial product the bbc might be referring to here?

    Swim is new to so called LH's but has recently tested a product containing ephedrine + piperazine blend and was pleasantly surprised with result. Swim just a little curious as to whether other stimulant type LH's are worth a shot.
  2. Panthers007
    I'd want to see an actual lab analysis of these things. Considering they think Salvia is the same thing as LSD, I see no point of listening to anything that dribbles out of their mouths or typewriters.
  3. Alfa
    They are likely talking about many of the piperazine products for sale in the UK. Plus the london underground / neorganics type mystery research chemical containing party pills.
  4. Mona Lisa
    ...and meow, m1, bubbleluv, bliss, etc. Bummer:(
  5. Mammon
    I heard this twaddle as well. Newsbeat is a pathetic institution. Over the years I’ve seen them get their knickers in a twist about any number of stories which they either pick up from other news sources or “research” for about 5 minutes before coming up with a sensationalist twist (who remembers Night Trap – the game on Mega CD?).

    You can hear that they don’t know what they’re talking about in the tone of the reader’s voice.

    Yes, I fucking hate Newsbeat.
  6. enquirewithin
    Does anyone know what that could be?
  7. stickmonster
    not just newsbeat this cropped up on Radio 4 too and was equally lurid. they claimed to have found cathinone in herbal high products but I doubt it as this is most definitely illegal in the uk.

    some of the products being sold legally are pretty strong these days and swim can make herself pretty sick if not careful. a newbie could find themselves in an emergency room, since some of them do not list active ingredients you've got to watch how you mix and match.

    John Ramsey is famously alarmist about these things if I recall, probably because the tiny minority that have difficulty are seen by him at St George's. maybe this is understandable, however he might like to show people his analysis so they can make informed choices, instead of selling it to the police through his website.
  8. Nature Boy
    A lazy article if anything. They only interviewed one random kid that had an underwhelming story and a doctor who basically says nothing of note. What strikes me is the misinformation that led to this. Who claimed the pills were herbal in the first place? This could have been incompetence on the part of the sellers or just an assumption the kid came up with. From what I've seen, rarely do you find the word "herbal" on the labeling unless it actually is herbal. They usually have some kind of vague description and a catchy buzzword like "euphoria" or "trippy". Taking eight pills all at once sounds wrong. If people used these things properly there probably wouldn't be many problems but it seems no-one's bothered checking what they put into their bodies. If it's legal and claims to have psychoactive effects, they'll just slam them back. How naive can you be?
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