Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson is backing Larne group PAL’s petition for legal highs to be banned as soon as they come on the market, and is calling for more substance abuse support groups to be set up across East Antrim to deal with the growing scourge of legal highs.
He told The Times: “I support PAL’s petition. It’s important work that they are doing. PAL Larne is very important both in terms of its campaigning work against drug dealing and the help they give to young people caught up in the whole drugs culture.”
Mr Dickson said that he was keen to see a change in the law. He stated: “The situation with legal highs is complex. We need further clarity around the legislation. The police need to know what it is they can and cannot do when it comes to the sale of legal highs. The law isn’t keeping up: every time the type or nature of the legal high is changed it becomes legal again.
“We need a general context across all pieces of legislation that bans everything that is or that can be described as a legal high. Shops that pretend to trade as legitimate businesses knowing what they are doing need to be curbed.”
The MLA praised the work of substance misuse charities including Carrickfergus Community Drug and Alcohol Advisory Group (CCDAAG). He also called for more groups based on the PAL model to be set up to tackle the problem of drugs abuse across the East Antrim area.
He continued: “I would like to see the PAL model being rolled out across East Antrim-to Carrick, Larne and rural areas. There is no less of a problem in those areas and there is growing demand for the services. These people trade on the misery and vulnerability of others.”
MLA Roy Beggs, a committee member of CCDAAG, said he also supported the petition to help the law stay one step ahead of those who were adjusting drugs mixes and who are ‘profiting at the expense of ruining lives.’