'Legal highs' off the bill at this year's Glastonbury Festival

Sun Jun 29, 2014 11:15am EDT
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By Paul Sandle

PILTON England (Reuters) - Revellers enjoyed plenty of mood enhancement along with the music at the Glastonbury Festival, but this year any euphoria was less likely to be fueled by so-called "legal highs" after organizers took a stand against them.

Glastonbury, which attracts more than 135,000 people, joined with other festivals earlier this year to ban the drugs, which mimic the effect of illegal drugs like Ecstasy, LSD and cannabis but are legal and have in the past been sold openly at stalls.

Britain's Association of Independent Festivals coordinated the campaign under the banner: "Don't be in the Dark About Legal Highs".

England-based consultant psychiatrist Ian Rodin, who is part of the medical team at Glastonbury, applauded the effort to highlight the risks of the drugs.

"The problem with legal highs is people had assumed that if they were harmful they would be illegal, so people haven't exercised the same caution as they would with an illegal drug," he said.

Also known as designer drugs, legal highs are flooding global markets, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said last month.

New psychoactive substances (NPS), aimed at the same market as drugs like ecstasy, are proliferating, it said, with 348 types reported globally in over 90 countries at the end of 2013.

Deaths from the drugs, which can be sold freely as long as they are labeled "not suitable for human consumption", jumped from 10 in 2009 to at least 68 in 2012, according to Britain's National Programme on Substance Abuse Deaths.   Continued...

Festival goers watch Metallica perform on the Pyramid stage at Worthy Farm in Somerset, during the Glastonbury Festival June 28, 2014. Picture taken June 28. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton