Pubdate: Wed, 08 Jun 2016
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: 2016 Guardian News and Media Limited
Author: Damien Gayle


The ban on legal highs will not lead to the disappearance of spice 
and other synthetic cannabis-like drugs because they are so 
profitable to dealers, a senior government drugs adviser has warned.

Prof Harry Sumnall, a member of the Home Office's Advisory Council on 
the Misuse of Drugs, said the economics of producing the substances - 
often collectively dubbed "spice" - versus that of growing 
traditional cannabis made them an appealing proposition.

Sumnall said the ingredients were easily available online. "We were 
making some in the lab the other day. Very, very easy to do, pretty 
much shake and bake. Really easy to make, highly profitable, these 
drugs aren't going anywhere."

Media reports on the harm caused by new designer drugs have focused 
on the effects on the endocannabinoid system, including reports of 
users self-harming, exhibiting bizarre behaviour in public and being 
hospitalised after seizures.

However, Sumnall, who is professor of substance use at the Centre for 
Public Health, said: "Synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists get a 
really bad press, not only from the popular media - and we've all 
seen newspaper headlines and videos of people stumbling around town 
centres - but perhaps also from researchers as well."

The number of under-18s in treatment for cannabis use rose from 9,000 
in 2006 to 13,400 in 2015. It accounts for three-quarters of the 
young people receiving help in specialist centres.
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