An estimated 40 new dangerous legal highs have flooded into West Yorkshire in the past year alone, with hundreds now on the streets and children as young as 14 being hospitalised for taking them.
Specialist officers say dealers are now using legal highs to get youngsters hooked on Class A drugs, while there is an emerging culture of the substances being taken into schools similar to “smoking behind the bike sheds” 30 years ago.
With factories in China and India churning out the drugs – stimulants with their chemical compounds tweaked to avoid being defined as illegal – at an unprecedented rate to fuel the now multi-million pound market, new calls are being made today to tackle the problem.
West Yorkshire Police’s drugs co-ordinator Bryan Dent, said many of the legal highs are now being professionally packaged to attract teenage users.
“I would describe it as significant amounts coming in and significant amounts of value,” he said.
“The people who make them don’t give a damn how much you take or what happens to you.
“We might be reaching a situation where legal highs are as attractive as tobacco these days for youngsters.
“I am aware of a small number of schools where legal high substances have been found, I’m sure there will be others that we don’t know about.” Among the new legal highs found in West Yorkshire is the controversial drug Annihilation – which Strathclyde police issued a warning against earlier this month after it left at least nine people in hospital, while on Friday the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs recommended to Home Secretary Theresa May to put it on a list of controlled substances.
Meanwhile West Yorkshire Police say they are aware of a group of 14-year-olds being hospitalised for smoking another legal high called Black Mamba.
Yesterday, (Oct 15) the UK Drug Policy Commission called for a “wholesale review” of drugs laws due to the explosion in legal highs.