A DANGEROUS ‘legal high’ has found its way on to the streets of Bolton, with the drug said to be readily available to the town’s homeless community.
The drug known as Spice has made national headlines in recent months after a huge increase in the number of homeless people taking the drug in the centre of Manchester, who were described as being in a ‘zombie-like’ state as a result of taking it.
Steps are now being taken to tackle the drug in Bolton, with police saying they are working to assist users and also tackle the supply of it in the town.
A blanket ban on so-called legal highs came in to force in May and now a major homeless organisation, police and a man living on the town’s streets have talked about the problems Spice poses.
Urban Outreach works with people with complex needs and the homeless in Bolton.
Dave Bagley, chief executive of the charity said: “I have seen people on it, it’s far too easy to get. The thing seems to be rife.
“We’ve seen it with people who are sleeping in the shelter.
“We’ve stopped allowing them to roll cigarettes in the night shelter because they can roll it (Spice) up.
“They can go out to have a cigarette and have a smoke. They can become aggressive or they can become very placid. They can end up in almost a catatonic state.
“It does something very similar to LSD, it elevates their emotional state. This is big, it was the talk of the shelter at the weekend.”
Mr Bagley added that he could not say the drug is prolific on the streets of Bolton but it is being used by the people the charity comes in to contact with.
He said: “It is a bit like when crack was first released on to the street — it is about what we’re going to do. It is in Bolton, it is on the street, it’s very easy to access by all accounts.
“These are people with limited access to finance and they are not finding Spice hard to access at all.
“It’s accessible to our group of people.”
He said people using the drug tend to be those transitioning from life on the streets to accommodation.
Dean Paul, aged 38, has been living on the streets of Bolton for the past five months and told how has tried the drug in the past.
He said: “I don’t take it, I hate the stuff. I have tried it, it’s a horrible drug.
“I won’t take it because of what it does to people. It kills people for one.
“It can make them hallucinate, they can go very angry if they can’t get it.”
Mr Paul added that the ‘rattle’ from Spice, a term used to describe when addicts are desperate for their next fix and are withdrawing, is worse than heroin.
He said: “I know people on the streets here that are begging to get the money to get the drug.
“It’s £5 for a gram. It’s cheaper than a lot of other drugs.
“The people that I know that take it — I don’t know why they do it, it’s really bad stuff. It’s really nasty stuff. I know a lot of people on the streets around here that take it.”
Police have pledged to do all they can to tackle the drug problem.
Sgt Jonathan Seeds from Bolton Central Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We are working in partnership with Bolton Council and a number of voluntary support groups to assist those who use Spice and tackle people who bring it to our streets.
“We are also providing those at risk with monthly support meetings and, where necessary, signposting them to the most effective support services.
“Our officers across the area are working hard to tackle the issue and bring people to justice.
Anyone with concerns should call us on 101 or 999 in an emergency.”
What is Spice?
SPICE is a mix of herbs and man made chemicals and is often called synthetic weed or fake weed because it being similar to marijuana.
It is often taken by smoking but the effects of it are often much stronger than marijuana and it can potentially cause death.
Other side-effects of taking Spice include causing extreme anxiety as well as paranoia and sometimes hallucinations.
The drug can also increase the heart rate, cause vomiting and result in violent behaviour.
The ban on legal highs criminalised the production, distribution, sale and supply of certain pyschoactive substances.
It was introduced last year after worries over an increase in the number of deaths caused by legal highs and also an increase in violence in prisons.