Montrose battles against “legal high”

Administrators of the Montrose Against Legal Highs Facebook group Sara Williamson, Justine Leslie, Lyn Torrance and Carey Allen.
Administrators of the Montrose Against Legal Highs Facebook group Sara Williamson, Justine Leslie, Lyn Torrance and Carey Allen.

A group of people in Montrose are campaigning against the sale of “legal highs” on Angus high streets.

A Facebook group ‘Montrose Against Legal Highs’ has been set up and already has more than 1,100 members.

The online group was set up off the back of the ‘Arbroath Against Legal High Drugs’ Facebook page after a number of people from Montrose had joined it,

Carey Allen, administrator for the Arbroath group, said: “There was a group of people from Montrose who had joined the Arbroath Facebook page wanting to know more about the legal high shop in the town, so we helped them to set up a group.

“As we did with the Arbroath group, we will be writing a letter to every MSP in Scotland asking what the government is going to do about the legislation of legal highs and licences of the shops who sell them.”

She added: “I’d urge people in Montrose to get on the Facebook group. We want to hear what the concerns and feelings of residents in Montrose are about these shops and what they think should happen.

“The great thing about Facebook groups is people are able to tell councillors their concerns from the comfort of their own sofa.”

The social media page has a ‘steering’ group of four people from the town.

Lyn Torrance, one of the Montrose administrators, said: “It’s important for the people of Montrose to get behind this because these drugs are dangerous.

“I have seen first hand the affect of these drugs. They can affect families. I have seen youngsters’ moods change after they have taken these substances. I don’t understand how they are legal and how they can be sold on our high streets.”

The Facebook group is being backed my Montrose Liberal Democrat councillor David May.

He said: “I am completely backing the group. I am giving as much support as I can to what they are trying to do in Montrose.

“I have been in touch with a number of constituents who are concerned about the sale of legal highs. I heard one case of a youngster from the town who had to spend a weekend in Ninewells Hospital in Dundee after taking some of these substances.”

He added: “I think the amount of support in Angus against legal highs is overwhelming and there must be a way forward to discontinue the sale of these drugs.”

Mrs Allen claimed the “legal high” drugs, which are technically called New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), often contain a mixture of legal and illegal substances.

She said: “These shops are a gateway for people to take other drugs. They’re sending out the wrong message, if someone some sees NPS being sold on a shelves on our high streets they presume they’re safe.

“The packets have ‘not for human consumption’ written on them, and that’s how they get away with selling them.”

Last week, councillors unanimously agreed that the authority’s chief executive Richard Stiff write to both UK and Scottish governments to reflect the concerns of people in Angus, asking what action is being taken in order to ban the sale of these substances, or to license the shops which sell them.

Mrs Allen said more needs to be done to regulate the sale of these drugs.

She said: “Trading Standards have been getting involved because NPS don’t have their ingredients on the back of the packets. The police need to have more jurisdiction where legal highs are concerned, so they can go in and perform spot checks to test what is in the substances that are being sold.”