The last shop selling so-called legal highs has closed its doors in South Ayrshire. The Council has welcomed the move, which follows the introduction of legislation to clampdown on a problem which has raised serious health concerns about young people taking the substances as stimulants.
New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) have many suspected side effects for their users, including, seizures, vomiting, paranoia, hallucinations, confusion, agitation, breathlessness and a loss of consciousness or coma. NPS have been associated with several deaths and admissions to A&E.
On the 26th May 2016, the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 came into force and put a blanket ban on the sale of so-called legal highs. In the past shop owners had argued that the products were incense, research chemicals, or bath salts and were not for human consumption. However the new legislation has clamped down on the sale of associated substances and the last shop selling NPS recently voluntarily closed down in Ayr.
John McDowall, South Ayrshire Council's Portfolio holder for Sustainability and Environment, said, "Until very recently shops could openly sell whatever they wanted, with people being lead to think the substances were safe.
"Fortunately the very real risks of these now illegal highs have now been recognised, and the last shop selling NPS products has now closed for good.
"Our number one priority is to protect local people from harm, and we hope anyone that had been happy to buy before will now see the dangers."
The new Psychoactive Substances Act makes it illegal for anyone to possess the products for supply and anyone found guilty could face up to seven years in prison. South Ayrshire Council, Police Scotland, and the NHS have all welcomed the introduction of the new Act to assist them in tackling the problems associated with these products.
Deputy Chief Constable, Ruaraidh Nicolson, said, "Police Scotland will take appropriate and proportionate action to deal with New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) and the impact they have on our communities.
"We've engaged with known sellers of NPS to make them aware of the introduction of the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016. Police Scotland is working with Trading Standards Scotland and local authority trading standards departments in taking action against those who supply NPS.
"There's no safe way to take NPS, there is always a risk. The only way of staying safe is to avoid NPS altogether. Anyone who has information about the supply of NPS should contact Police Scotland on 101; in an emergency always call 999."
Anyone with information about the continued sale of these products should inform Police Scotland on 101 or contact South Ayrshire Trading Standards department on 01292 616 060.