Film contest to highlight dangers of legal highs

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A NATIONAL film competition is being launched by campaigners raising awareness of the potentially devastating effects of club drugs and legal highs.

The Why Not Find Out campaign, by the newly launched Angelus Foundation, will see young people invited to make films about the best ways of getting naturally high, such as sports and music.

Judges will include Lord Puttnam and the winners will be mentored by award-winning producers, including Simon Berthon, who produced Wallis Simpson: The Secret Letters. The winning films will appear on TV.

The launch, at the Tricycle Cinema in Kilburn, London, at 9pm on Wednesday, comes after figures showed that more than 40 deaths were linked to a group of now-banned legal highs in 2010, eight times as many as the previous year.

The biggest increase related to meow meow, which rose from five deaths in 2009 to 29 the following year, the National Programme on Substance Abuse Deaths report showed.

Maryon Stewart, who founded the Angelus Foundation after her medical student daughter, Hester, died aged 21 in 2009 after taking the then legal GBL, said a substance being legal did not mean it was safe.

Ms Stewart, from Brighton, said: “Our children don’t need to die or be harmed for life by these toxic chemicals falsely disguised as legal highs.

“It’s natural for young people to want to have fun, but it’s important that they stay safe and fully understand that just because a substance is legal it doesn’t mean it’s safe.”

Almost a third of young people search for ways of getting legally high, according to a survey commissioned by the Angelus Foundation.

But two-thirds admitted not being well-informed about the risks linked with taking such substances. Side-effects of legal highs can include psychosis, depression, panic attacks, seizures, coma and death.