Eastbourne Police have launched Operation Deter to tackle the sale of ‘legal highs’ in the borough.
Police, the Safer East Sussex Team and East Sussex County Council’s trading standards department have teamed up to explain to traders their obligations over selling new psychoactive substances (NPS).
On Monday (December 15) known outlets for products such as Clockwork Orange, Exodus, Herbal Haze, Jumping Beans, Psyclone and Sparkle were visited by police and handed letters of advice.
Traders were told they must comply with laws set out in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, the Intoxicating Substances (Supply) Act 1985 and the General Product (Safety) Regulations 2005.
Because there is no penalty for possessing them, as would be the case with controlled drugs such as cannabis and cocaine, they have become popular with the street community and recreational users.
Producers often aim to get round regulations by stating that substances are - for example - herbal incense, research chemicals and not for human consumption.
But because it is reasonably foreseeable that buyers actually want them to consume, smoke or inhale to induce a psychoactive response, this means that sellers must ensure they not dangerous.
Chief Inspector Paul Phelps said, “Many of these substances mimic controlled drugs, differing only slightly in their chemical make-up.
“Because of this they can be bought and used with impunity, but therein lies the danger. There is no control on their use or content, and this makes them potentially harmful.
“We all know that something called paracetemol can kill your headache, but something called – for argument’s sake – paracetemole, to disguise its true identity, could kill you.”
NPS products are often found without instructions for use, no proper labelling, no list of ingredients and no means of tracing their origin. Chemical composition may vary greatly across and between batches.
Police and trading standards officers plan to follow up the advice with snap inspections to check that regulations are being followed.
Unsafe or illegal products will be seized as evidence and where appropriate a prosecution may follow.
Further advice and information can be found online at www.sussex.police.uk