Call for prosecution on legal highs

Thursday October 8th 2015

Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale MSP Christine Grahame is supporting legislative moves to ban the sale of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) but believes that in the meantime the police and Crown Office should be using common law.

Speaking during a debate in Parliament in the name of Paul Wheelhouse, on progress on implementing recommendations of the expert review group on new psychoactive substances Ms Grahame spoke about a young Gorebridge man who died after injecting a NPS called Burst.

“It took him seven weeks to die; after many operations, septicaemia took his life. Following that, one of my local papers, the Midlothian Advertiser, launched a campaign to ban NPS. I joined that campaign and I would praise the paper for its campaign. In the same month, through a third party, I purchased a so-called “legal high” from a shop that sells e-cigarettes in Dalkeith.

“The third party, a reformed drug addict concerned at how easily such purchases can be made, was able to purchase the white sparkly powder from under the counter. Despite it being marked as “not for human consumption” the shopkeeper would have recognised the third party and his addictive past.

“The actions of that shopkeeper, the subterfuge and the method and conduct of the sale leads me to conclude beyond reasonable doubt that the shopkeeper knew—notwithstanding the printed warning on the packet—that the purchase was for human consumption and was dangerous.”

Ms Grahame said during the debate that she wonders why the police and Crown Office have not made use of common law.

She added:

“There have been successful prosecutions in relation to glue sniffing. Two shopkeepers in Glasgow were arrested and charged inter alia with supplying to children glue-sniffing kits but gave notice of objection to the indictment stating that, on the charge of supplying, the facts as libelled did not disclose a crime known to Scots law because there was nothing illegal about the items that they had supplied. Their plea was rejected and they appealed but the High Court took the view that, even though Evo-Stik glue and plastic bags might be perfectly legal everyday items, the two shopkeepers knew perfectly well what the children were going to use the articles for, and that the charge on the indictment should stand.

“It seems to me that the supply of materials for ingestion or injection for purposes of a high that are known to, or are likely to, cause injury or death fits the same bill as the successful glue-sniffing prosecutions. I do not understand why, to the best of my knowledge, there have not been any prosecutions.”

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