POLICE are warning about the dangers of legal highs after four school students in Kirklees had to go to hospital.
Officers say the youngsters suffered “potentially serious health effects” after smoking a herbal substance marketed as Black Mamba.
One of them was described as very close to losing consciousness, sick and generally unwell.
Bryan Dent, West Yorkshire Police’s force drugs co-ordinator, said: “These substances by being commonly referred to as ‘legal highs’ give a completely false context to the issue, they should be best described as ‘toxic substances’ - because that’s what they are - toxic.
“Although not covered by the Misuse of Drugs Act and are on the face of it legal, they are not safe and are often very toxic.”
The police say Black Mamba is a herbal concoction which mimics the effects of cannabis. They warn that people purchase it from so-called ‘head shops’ and the internet but may not know what the substance actually contains or has been treated with.
“It’s our experience that many of the substances do actually contain ingredients which are illegal, so instead of buying what people think are legal substances they are in fact buying illegal substances,” said Mr Dent.
“Taking this toxic substance could have ended in tragedy for the individuals and their families.
“The police work hard with our partners in the local authority and health professions but ultimately the decision to consume or smoke such substances is an individual one.
“But consuming these toxic concoctions does have consequences for people in terms of affecting their health and the fact that they think they are buying legal substances when in fact they contain illegal ingredients.
“There is much concern nationally that the term ‘legal highs‘ is misleading. Lack of research into many of the products means that there are many questions raised about what the long term health effects are of consuming white powders and herbal mixtures which have been treated with synthetic ingredients.
“We have to keep getting the message out to especially young people that when you ingest materials to alter your state of mind there will always be risks attached to that activity, often serious health risks and the risk of getting arrested.”