25 November 2013
A stark warning has been issued by the Health and Social Services Department and States of Jersey Police as a result of a particularly toxic batch of new psychoactive substances known to have been circulating in recent weeks. These drugs have left a number of users seriously ill and requiring treatment at Jersey General Hospital and the police have also made arrests regarding potential offences relating to the supply of drugs.
Describing the drugs as ‘legal highs’ is misleading: in many cases they may be illegal and, regardless of legality, the side-effects can be extremely harmful and potentially lethal. Michael Gafoor, Director of Jersey’s Drug and Alcohol Service said that some of the substances in circulation were causing serious concern.
“These drugs may lead to severe paranoia, confusion, aggressive and highly irrational behaviour, and their effects can be particularly harmful in tandem with alcohol and other stimulants, putting users at even greater risk,” he said. “There are no guarantees about the purity of such products, nor any way of knowing whether they actually contain the ingredients mentioned on packaging or by those who sell them.”
New products classified as legal
Since the ‘legal high’ problem first emerged in Jersey in 2008, the authorities have acted quickly, classifying products such as Spice, mephedrone and naphyrone as illegal under drug laws. Newer substances such as Benzo Fury and Ivory Wave (both now Class B controlled drugs) have emerged more recently as manufacturers attempt to stay ahead of the law. A 19-year-old man in Jersey died in 2012 after taking Benzo Fury.
“One death already in Jersey is one too many,” said Detective Chief Inspector Chris Beechey of the States of Jersey Police. ‘There is mounting evidence that these products can kill and they are being manufactured and sold without any testing regime or knowledge of the adverse effects on the human body.
“We will continue to target those who deal in these products and whilst some may not be controlled, there is no way to know exactly what substance you have without official chemical identification.”
DCI Beechey added that police had made three recent arrests regarding potential offences relating to the supply of psychoactive drugs. All those arrested were released pending further investigation.