23rd July 2012
'Legal highs' may be legal - but they're not safe
The so-called ‘legal high’ Mary Joy Pink (which is also known as K2, Warning, Review and Annihilation) is sold legitimately as an incense or pot pourri, and is known to be widely used here in Shetland.
Users report the effects range from “nothing much” to “had a horrific time, I will not be trying it again”, and some have even had to attend the hospital’s A&E department due to adverse effects.
Karen Smith from the Shetland Alcohol and Drug Partnership says: “We are trying to make people aware that Mary Joy Pinks exists, and it is being used in Shetland. Although it is not illegal, this by no way means that it is safe. There have been no studies into the long term effects of this and other legal highs, so we have no idea what impact they can have on people’s mental and physical health. We are aware that a number of people have suffered health-related side effects in Shetland, and want to make the public aware of some of the risks associated with its use.”
Legal highs are often sold as 'research chemicals' or ‘plant food’, with dealers trying to get round the law by labelling substances as not for human consumption. Even where their chemical content is clear, the full effect of such drugs is poorly understood, especially their interaction with other drugs or with prescribed medications.
The buyer may assume that as the substance is legal, it’s therefore safe. However, neither may be true. The manufacture and sale of these drugs is not regulated or standardised. Any drug made or sold in this way will not have gone through the testing and investigation pharmaceutical products are subjected to - you cannot be sure of a legal high's strength or dosage, or even that you're getting what is offered. You may end up swallowing, snorting or smoking a substance without having any way of knowing exactly what it contains, legal or illegal.
If anyone is concerned about their own or someone else’s use of legal highs and/or any other drug or alcohol, they can contact CADSS on 01595 695363, or visit their GP.