Julian Brazier MP calls for 'legal high' shop ban

Matt Ford bought the legal drug at a shop in Canterbury

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A Kent MP has called for shops that sell legal highs to be shut down after a teenager suffered a near fatal reaction to one substance.

Student Matt Ford, 17, had to be treated in hospital after he smoked an incense called Exodus Damnation bought from Skunkworks in Canterbury.

Conservative MP Julian Brazier has written to the home secretary calling for a change in the law.

Skunkworks said disciplinary action had been taken against the Canterbury shop.

Matt, a student at Canterbury College, said: "It sort of felt like I was swaying from side to side, my vision went blurry, I started sweating and then after that I just blacked out.

"The paramedic told me in an ambulance that if I'd been laid there for another five or 10 minutes [without treatment] I'd probably be dead."

'Must be banned'

In a letter to Theresa May, Mr Brazier, who represents Canterbury and Whitstable, wrote: "A local teenager very nearly died when he smoked a herbal incense called Exodus Damnation bought at Skunkworks, whose get-out clause for the sale is that the herb is 'not for human consumption', but their advice is to 'help you relax' by burning the herbs in the home.

"The fact remains that the shop knowingly sells intoxicants and highs, with the apparent blessing of the law. Indeed, the chain is expanding."

He said Skunkworks, "its fellow shops and its websites" should be banned.

Start Quote

We can assure you, this is not an incident that UK Skunkworks takes lightly”

End Quote Skunkworks statement

"The Misuse of Drugs Act needs to be re-examined and toughened up, as it was framed long before the internet and widespread availability of chemical highs," he said.

Legal highs mimic the effects of illegal drugs, but are not banned under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

UK Skunkworks issued a statement which said: "In light of the recent incident regarding Matthew Ford, UK Skunkworks would like to offer our sincerest apologies to the young man involved.

"We can assure you, this is not an incident that UK Skunkworks takes lightly.

"Both the individual franchise and the staff member have been subject to our 'single strike' policy, which is evident in our franchise manual.

"This policy states, 'In the event of an underage individual being sold any product from a UK Skunkworks store, you will be held responsible for your actions.

"'Underage sales are strictly prohibited and will result in the immediate exclusion of the staff member responsible for the incident'."

The firm said: "We will not tolerate this behaviour and can assure you that UK Skunkworks have ensured this is a single incident that will be dealt with immediately."

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