Being Modern: Legal highs
Katie Grant is a freelance journalist specialising in travel and culture. She studied English & Philosophy at Trinity College, Dublin, before going on to work for Roddy Doyle at his creative writing centre, Fighting Words. Publications she writes for include The Independent, Metro and Evening Standard.
Sunday 13 January 2013
Almost halfway through the traditional month of detox seems a good time to examine the grey area of legal highs. That such things exist in the first place can be traced back to the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1920, which represented Britain's first formal drug legislation. Cocaine was banned, with cannabis added to the list in 1928. LSD was prohibited in 1966, and the substance that came to be known as Ecstasy was added a few years later.
The US launched its War on Drugs in 1971, leading to the UK's own "Just Say No" campaign of the 1980s, and the Grange Hill cast's funk-driven hit of the same name, which encouraged a generation of children politely to decline.
Don't be fooled, though: the prevalence of "legal highs" – intoxicants designed to mimic the effects of illegal drugs, but which are structurally different enough to avoid being classified as such – means the war is far from over.
Record numbers of new legal highs were discovered last year, alongside a massive surge in online retailers, and drug experts are getting anxious.
With catchy product names such as "Groove-e" and "Trip-e" (it contains "E", geddit?!), it's enough to make you pine for the halcyon days of simple, old-fashioned, illegal highs – at least the people who marketed Ecstasy could spell properly. Peddling mind-altering wares is one thing, but is it really necessary to promote illiteracy, too?
"Bath Salts", a legal substance which has been likened to a mixture of speed and cocaine, is a highly addictive designer drug linked to violence and psychosis. Seriously, kids, instead of snorting them, why not just try sprinkling them in the bath, popping on some Enya and feeling your troubles melt away?
Of course, it's natural to feel peer pressure where drugs are involved. So Being Modern would like to remind readers: you don't have to act like a great big star, you can be a hero, be who you are. Just say no, and kindly advise any pushers to stick their legal highs up their K-holes. You know it's what Zammo would do.
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