Steve Brine spoke at length in the House of Commons on Monday 19th October as he strongly backed the government in their move to ban 'legal highs'.
The Winchester & Chandler's Ford MP explained how he had been 'inundated' with complaints about a so-called 'head shop' on Stockbridge Rd, which sells the currently legal substances, in close proximity to schools, a college and the railway station, while addressing wider issues such as legality, availability, potency and price as drivers in people opting to take the life-risking substances.
He also clearly set out the problems on the abuse on the prison estate, with particular reference to 'Spice', and highlighted that at one point, HMP Winchester had three ambulances on call to take prisoners to hospital.
He acknowledged the work done by sectors across the city, including Hampshire Constabulary, HMP/YOI Winchester, Trinity homeless shelter and Jack Briggs of local drug and alcohol specialists Baseline Training, in confronting the problem, and outlined the tragic case of 18 year old Ellie Rowe, who died after consuming ketamine at a Winchester festival in 2013.
The MP had spoken prior to the debate to Ellie's mother, Wendy, and he told the House: "Her message was this: yes, ban these substances, especially if it reduces demand, but please do not think that the law is the start and the end of the matter—I suspect that other Members will raise that point tonight.
"Of course we do not think that, and as the Minister said in his opening remarks, we must be careful about criminalising young people for silly mistakes. A criminal record can also ruin lives, and education about the dangers of these drugs—legally as much as physically—must not stop if this Bill receives Royal Assent."
He outlined work carried out by an expert Hampshire-wide panel, which concluded that the main drivers of New Psychoactive Substance consumption were, in order, legality, availability, potency and price, pointing out that while these substances are highly intoxicating, they give relatively little pleasure, so it would be reasonable to argue that people will be much less likely to seek them once their legal status has changed.
He added: "In conclusion, by creating a blanket ban on the production, distribution, sale and supply of psychoactive substances in the UK, we will change the rules of the game hugely in favour of the police and other agencies working to keep our constituents safe. For that reason, I am happy to support the Bill on Second Reading."
The Psychoactive Substances Bill will now be considered by committee, and further progress in the House is expected by the end of October.
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