Underworld figures making a fortune as drugs created in city

UNDERWORLD figures are making a fortune from psycho-active substances without fear of prosecution, according a leading expert on the lethal drugs. 

Professor Neil McKeganey, who heads up the Centre for Drug Misuse Research (CDMR) in the city’s West End, said legal highs are now being made in makeshift labs in Glasgow. 

He said shadowy underworld figures have realised the “limitless potential” to make money from psychoactive substances.  The award-winning researcher said: “The situation we face in relation to what are called psychoactive substances, or legal highs, to me is one of the most worrying and most significant changes in the pattern of drug use in Scotland in the last decade, for two reasons – the number of legal highs that are now available and the speed with which they are being developed and marketed.

“What we are seeing is an entire cultural shift where drug use was seen as a hidden activity associated with the black market to what is now an open part of the economy. That is shocking.  We know they are deadly because they have already been associated in Scotland with a 400% increase in deaths associated with people consuming these substances between 2010 and 2012. There’s absolutely no question of the harm associated with these substances.”

Prof McKeganey has warned that the supply chain must be broken or more people will die.  He said: “Something has to be done now to tackle the supply. A large proportion of these drugs are coming from China and India. But because the chemistry knowledge required to manu-facture them is not huge, some of it will be occurring in this city.”

The Evening Times put the claim to Detective Chief Inspector Garry Mitchell, of the Specialist Crime Division.   He said: “I’m not in a position to counter that. It is part of a criminal investigation that’s ongoing. It will be a key focus of that.”

Prof McKeganey added: “We sit on a precipice. Either we deal with these drugs robustly and we deal with those who are selling these drugs, or we virtually have no way of impeding the expansion of that market. Remember, this is an economy so there will be people associated with the traditional drug trade in Glasgow realising that there is a new, potentially limitless, market that will mean their powerbase will diminish if they don’t get into that.  They will be driven by the financial imperative to get into the legal highs market and that will involve importation, distribution and production, where that’s possible. They won’t just sit and watch a parallel drugs economy take off.”

He suggests banning whole categories of drugs. He said: “Any drug which is marketed to induce a certain reaction in the brain or is similar to other drugs that are currently covered by legislation, should be made illegal.

“Unless we have that level of clarity, you are just feeding the problem because there are potentially limitless numbers of individuals who are prepared to manufacture and sell these substances when they are entirely legal.”

Source:  www.eveningtimes.co.uk    9th Sept. 2014 

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