Wigan people and shops are being urged to “hand in their highs” as part of a week-long police amnesty.
New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), previously known as “legal highs”, used to be readily available from retail outlets but the introduction of The Psychoactive Substances Act in May has made it illegal to sell, supply or import these drugs.
“Illegal highs,” as they must now properly be known, are engineered to have a similar effect on users as drugs such as cocaine or cannabis.
As there is no regulation with these drugs ingredients and strength can vary between batches.
As well as being highly addictive, some users have experienced seizures, mental health issues, brain damage and heart problems.
NPS have also been linked to a number of deaths.
The amnesty, which was launched yesterday and runs until Sunday, allows retailers to get rid of any stock they may still have, without any questions asked.
Users are also encouraged to put their health first and get rid of their highs before they make themselves or others ill or worse.
GMP is keen to stress that no personal information will be taken and the process will be completely anonymous.
Assistant Chief Constable Rob Potts said: “Calling these drugs ‘legal highs’ gives a false impression to the public and puts lives at risk.
“Shop owners need to be aware in the change of the law.
“These drugs are now illegal to supply, even for free.
“To users of these psychoactive substances, my strong advice is don’t risk your health or that of your friends.
“This amnesty provides an ideal opportunity for anyone to dispose of these illegal drugs safely at any police station across Greater Manchester.
“You won’t be asked for any information.”
Greater Manchester Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd said: “We have seen first-hand here in Greater Manchester the damage these substances can do to the people that use them, often ending up in the hands of young people who have no idea what it is they are taking.
“This amnesty is a positive step in working together – police, health, trading standards, and local people – to raise awareness of the dangers of these drugs, tackle those who sell them and ultimately, save heartache and lives.”
The new act came into force on May 26.
Enforcement powers include prohibition notices, premises notices, prohibition orders and premises orders, which allow police or councils to require people to stop stocking, selling or supplying psychoactive substances. Officers will have powers to stop and search people, vehicles and vessels, enter and search premises with a warrant, and to seize and destroy psychoactive substances.
While it does not criminalise simple possession, it will be an offence to possess them within custodial institutions, or anywhere with intent to supply them to another. It is also an offence to import them.
For more information on the opening times of your nearest amnesty drop off point, please visit www.gmp.police.uk/handinyourhighs
Follow the conversation on social media using the hashtag #HandInYourHighs