Cheltenham teens turn to "cheap and nasty" drugs for highs
YOUNG people in Cheltenham could be risking long-term psychological damage by resorting to "cheap and nasty" drugs.
That's the opinion of one habitual drug user, who has spoken of the dangers of so-called "legal highs" available on the town's streets.
It comes as two such substances, Black Mamba and Methoxetamine – derived from cannabis and Ketamine respectively – have been outlawed after Government advisers deemed them potentially lethal.
The 30-year-old drug user, who lives in the town, but wants to remain anonymous, warned the ban could lead to youngsters dabbling in unknown substances.
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He said Methodoxetamine, which has a street name of Mexxy, was a popular party drug among 16 to 23-year-olds available in Cheltenham for £10 a gram.
"If you want to get hold of it in Cheltenham you can pick it up relatively easily," he said.
"Black Mamba is available too if you know where to look. It's a derivative of cannabis but a mind-blowingly stronger version.
"These derivative drugs seem to be popping up all the time. No sooner has one been made illegal then another appears. You wonder if banning them actually spawns new versions of the same substance which could potentially be even more harmful."
Mexxy has been linked to two deaths in the UK this year while police have issued warnings about Black Mamba. They are the latest two legal highs to be banned. Meph- edrone was outlawed in 2010 after it was linked to a string of deaths.
Tony France, deputy chief executive of Infobuzz, a charity which supports young people in Gloucestershire with drug related issues, said: "Banning substances doesn't necessarily affect whether people use them or not – it just dictates the market conditions."
He added that young people took a significant risk when ingesting unknown substances.
"There is always going to be a risk putting drugs into your body," he added. "That certainly includes substances which haven't yet been made illegal, but that don't yet fully understand the impact of."
Mexxy and Black Mamba have now been classified as Class B drugs. Users could face up to five years in jail or 14 years for dealing.
Police vowed to crack down on anyone caught with the substances.
"We will take appropriate lawful action against users and their suppliers," said a force spokesman.