PAL welcomes review of legal high legislation

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The secretary of PAL Larne has described the UK government’s consideration of a blanket ban on new psychoactive substances as ‘brilliant.’

Beverley White spoke to The Larne Times after a Home Office report called for a blanket ban on all psychoactive drugs to tackle legal highs.

Currently, when a legal high is outlawed, its makers simply alter its chemical composition to create a new substance, staying one step ahead of the law. The UK government is now studying the Republic of Ireland’s ban on the sale of all psychoactive substances with exceptions for alcohol and tobacco.

Two weeks ago, substance misuse support charity Preventing Addiction Larne (PAL) launched a petition calling for legal highs to be banned as soon as they come on the market. The petition has so far attracted almost 700 signatures.

PAL secretary Beverley commented: “I am over the moon that they are considering this. Our campaign is going very, very well online and we are getting a positive reaction from members of the public. People are more aware of the legal high shop and ‘they are reporting the things they have seen.”

Worryingly for traders in Dunluce Street, Beverley says that people have told her they are avoiding the area due to anti-social behaviour associated with the Northern Lights Hydroponics store.

Five months ago the shop was raided by the Council and PSNI. It is understood that 300 packets of so-called legal highs were removed from sale at the premises.

Beverley revealed: “People are avoiding walking up Dunluce Street because of the shop. This has a knock-on effect on local businesses.

“Times are hard economically and this makes it worse.”

The PAL worker believes that if the hydroponics shop were to close, it would have a major positive impact on the town. She continued: “Economically it would be good if that shop closed.

“Our petition is doing very well with almost 700 signatures online, and people are sharing stories about how it affected them.

“We have had a lot of support from local politicians and we are planning when to take the completed petition to Stormont. We are pleased at the response to our campaign.

“This is a poison which is eating away at the community.”