“…It is a remarkable statement – the rock musician and drugs activist credited with spawning the global legal highs industry is now calling for new laws in Britain to protect the millions of young people who take the substances.
Legal highs are synthetic chemical substitutes for illegal recreational drugs such as cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy which often sell at a lower price.
The industry has grown dramatically in the past decade in response to demand from clubbers and festival goers – but it has proved difficult to regulate – and some products have proved lethal.
Matt Bowden, 42, is known as the godfather of the legal highs industry.
He was a user of crystal meth – a highly addictive form of amphetamine – in the 1990s until he teamed up with a pharmacologist in New Zealand to find a safer, synthetic alternative.
Two family members had died from the effects of drugs and he concluded better substitutes must be developed.
The resulting product, called BZP, sold so well that it was noticed beyond New Zealand’s borders.
Soon budding chemists everywhere were busy tweaking the molecular structure of existing drugs such as cocaine and cannabis – and selling them as “legal” alternatives for large amounts of money.
Dealers found that instead of negotiating an illegal supply of cocaine from dangerous south American thugs they could buy a kilo of mephedrone from a nice man from China with no questions asked.
Now Mr Bowden says that new regulations are needed to protect consumers from the products he helped spawn…”
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