Bulk of NI shops ‘have already dropped selling legal highs and drug equipment’

An example of some 'legal highs' which have been on sale in the UK

An example of some 'legal highs' which have been on sale in the UK

Most shops have already stopped selling psychoactive substances and drug taking equipment in Northern Ireland after a successful legal action by Belfast City Council, the chief medical officer said.

Until recently the PSNI estimated there were 20 “head shops” selling psychoactive substances, but following Westminster legislation and a case against several businessmen taken by the council most have stopped stocking the chemicals.

Chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride said he hoped the new law would deter many people from experimenting.

“Following the successful legal action in Belfast, PSNI now suggests that most shops in Northern Ireland which had been selling drug paraphernalia (bongs, pipes, etc) have stopped,” he said.

A year ago a landmark legal ruling – the first of its kind in the UK – saw three people sentenced for the sale and distribution of so-called “legal highs” following action by the council.

A blanket prohibition is due to come into force this month.

However, Commander Simon Bray, the National Police Chiefs Council’s lead on New Psychoactive Substances, warned those seeking chemicals which are made illegal could move to the darker parts of the internet once they are removed from shops.

‘Legal high’ substances largely mimic the effects of already-illegal drugs like ecstasy and cannabis.