Angus South MSP Graeme Dey has welcomed an undertaking by Holyrood to better collate data on the substances known as legal highs.
During a parliamentary debate held in Holyrood yesterday (Thursday), the SNP MSP addressed the misconception held by New Psychoactive Substance (NPS) users that what they are consuming is safe.
He commented: “I think it is important to get a context for the scale and nature of the problem.
“And that isn’t easy. Neither Police Scotland nor the NHS actually record NPS related incidents in a manner which readily allows for the formation of an accurate picture.
“We need a solid information base so we can better understand who is using – their age profiles because it is too simplistic to saw we are dealing only with teenagers – and the consequences of that usage.”
During the debate Communities Minister Roseanne Cunningham revealed the Scottish Government was implementing measures which would ensure statistics on NPS use were more effectively gathered and used to inform their response to the problem.
“This is clearly a welcome step forward, “ said Mr Dey.
Mr Dey praised the efforts of police in seeking to address the issue and in particular the presence of head shops in towns and cities across Scotland and he called for additional legislative support for those efforts.
However he acknowledged the major obstacles faced by the authorities in closing down such shops from operating and pointed out that even if they were banned that would not solve the wider problem.
Mr Dey continued: “Premises selling so called legal highs of course are, strictly speaking, doing nothing illegal.
“But as a parent, let alone the local parliamentarian I find it unsettling that such shops, in my constituency, have opened close by youth and drug rehab projects.
“But simply removing such premises from our midst won’t address the more general problem of NPS abuse, desirable though that might be.”