Experts call for ban on new legal high and warning over inhaling legal gases
DRUGS experts have urged the UK government to ban a potent legal high called Annihilation, which has put several people in hospital in and around Glasgow.
• Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs calls for ban on legal high Annihilation, which has put nine users in hosiptal in the last three months
• The substance can cause aggression, self-harm and unconsciousness
• ACMD also wants public warned over dangers of inhaling helium and nitrous oxide
The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) said it would recommend Home Secretary Theresa May put the product – marketed as a “herbal incense” – on the list of controlled substances.
Strathclyde Police last week warned against Annihilation use, saying it had left at least nine people in the Glasgow area in hospital over the past three months.
ACMD chairman Professor Les Iversen told a meeting that the public body was “ahead of the game” with regards to Annihilation and had determined that it was made from a synthetic form of cannabis.
He said: “Annihilation is a relatively new substance and product, and the evidence for its prevalence and harms is still very preliminary.
“However, there have been reports, particularly from Glasgow, of young people reacting very unfavourably to this product, becoming severely agitated and over-stimulated.”
Prof Iversen described Annihilation as “particularly potent” and said its arrival showed just how fast-moving the legal high market had become in recent years.
It can cause a number of adverse health effects including paranoia, aggression, increased heart rate, unconsciousness, self-harming and numbness in the legs, leading users to collapse.
The longest any of the nine people in the Glasgow area was kept in hospital was overnight, and that was for observation.
The ACMD has also warned that there is an increasing need to educate the public over “potentially lethal” inhalation of gases, such as helium and nitrous oxide.
Helium inhalation caused two deaths in 2007, but over the past year has been responsible for 42 fatalities, the meeting in central London heard.
Nitrous oxide, commonly known as “laughing gas”, which is legal and widely available but requires a medical licence to be dispensed, is used as an anaesthetic and in the production of whipped cream.
Asked about how the gas was being consumed for recreational purposes, Prof Iversen said: “It is quite easy to open a canister and fill a balloon. At Glastonbury music festival a couple of years ago there were lots of yellow balloons containing nitrous oxide, which were being sold and inhaled.”
The UK government will also be advised to provide aluminium foil to heroin users to encourage them to smoke rather than inject the drug.
This would reduce the transmission of viral and bacterial diseases, and cut some of the burden on the NHS related to recreational drug injection, Prof Iversen added.
In June, Alex Heriot, 19, from Portobello in Edinburgh, died after apparently taking the legal drug Benzo Fury at the RockNess music festival near Inverness.
Two other festival-goers, a 19-year-old woman and a 20-year-old man, were treated in Raigmore Hospital in Inverness after allegedly taking legal highs at the festival.
The ACMD is a non-departmental public body which advises ministers on how to deal with the misuse of drugs.
Before making regulations related to drugs, the Home Secretary is obliged by law to consult it.
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