North east MSP Alex Johnstone is to highlight concerns about ‘legal high’ substances at the Scottish Parliament after a meeting at CAFE on Monday.
About two dozen local people turned up at a gathering organised by local councillor David Fairweather to voice their opposition to the availability in local shops of these compounds.
One of those at the meeting was the Rev. Martin Fair of St Andrew’s Church. He said: “We are entirely committed to Arbroath being a better place for all of us and a safer community.
“The existence of these shops and saying that the substances are legal suggests that they are safe. I categorically know that not to be the case.
“I am dealing on a fairly regular basis with people who have themselves got caught up in it and just a few days ago spoke with a mother whose 17-year-old son is completely wrecked on these substances.”
Councillor Fairweather commented: “I was contacted by a constituent on Saturday morning. I felt that the way forward for this problem was to make contact with an MSP at the Scottish parliament and see if they would be willing to be involved. We want them to take this forward in parliament.
“There are questions that need to be answered. Are these substances legal and are they safe?”
Simone Lavery, license holder at the Anchor Bar and Pub Watch chairwoman, stressed that it was not just young people who were experimenting with the substances.
She recalled an incident which happened in the summer when a 56-year-old customer collapsed and an ambulance was called. It was later discovered that he had ingested a substance by smoking it. A week later he collapsed again and once again an ambulance was called.
Ms Lavery said: “The customer admitted what he had taken and had the packet on him. I took the packet from him and showed it to the Pubwatch committee.”
She later went to the premises where he had bought the substance and said she was surprised to see it on display, although it stated that it was not for human consumption, but was an incense.
Mr Johnstone told the Arbroath Herald: “I have serious concerns that I have been contacted by people in Arbroath who tell me that there is a problem in the town with so called legal highs.
“We know it is a much broader problem than just in Arbroath. First of all, these ‘legal’ highs are illegal because they haven’t been tested so nobody knows what the effects of some of these substances are. There are huge potential dangers in some of these substances which are unregulated.
“It appears that Scottish Government holds no central figures for the number of incidents involving ‘legal’ highs or the number of admissions to hospital resulting.
“We seem to have a situation where there is a lack of knowledge and yet there seems to be activity on the ground where these substances are being traded.”