NINE new legal highs are being sold in head shops, replacing drugs banned by the Government last month.
Pharmacists working for the HSE said they were now dealing with “a bit of a minefield”, with not only new products emerging, but a range of other compounds available on the internet.
Experts have warned users they are like “walking guinea pigs” and the effects of the drugs are unknown.
Dr Pierce Kavanagh, a chemist in Trinity College Dublin, said his research had identified nine new substances in products bought from head shops since the Government’s May 11 ban.
“What we are encountering now is a bit of a minefield,” said Dr Kavanagh, based in TCD’s Department of Pharmacology. “Not only are there new products for sale commercially, there are loads of other compounds out there, the next generation, which are available wholesale on the internet.”
The new drugs had been identified, tentatively, after chemical analysis. They include six new powders or bath salts and three capsules/tablets or party pills:
* Pure NRG: a powder, containing naphyrone, a stimulant drug replacing now banned mephedrone.
* White Columbia: a powder, containing ethcathinone, a derivative of stimulant drugs called cathinones, some of which were banned in May.
* Raz: a powder, containing lignocaine, a local anaesthetic often used as a cocaine substitute.
* Energy: a capsule, containing dimethylamylamine (DMAA), a stimulant replacing banned BZP.
* Entropy: a capsule, containing glaucine, a relaxant with hallucinogenic effects.
* Amplified: a powder, containing dimethocaine, a local anaesthetic with stimulant properties similar to cocaine. Also sold as Mind Melt.
* Go-E: a tablet, containing DMAA and other substances.
* Star Dust: a powder, containing fluorotropacocaine, a cocaine substitute and local anaesthetic.
* Sn*berry: a powder, containing caffeine.
There were predictions when Britain was banning mephedrone, one the most popular bath salts, that naphyrone would replace it.
Some head shops here are now promoting it as the “new party powder”, although, like other bath salts, it’s labelled not for human consumption.
Dr John Cryan, a pharmacologist at the School of Pharmacy in University College Cork, said very little was known about the effects of the drugs on the body. “From the limited knowledge from international literature, they have properties similar to amphetamine and cocaine. Compounds like naphyrone are potentially very dangerous. I would have huge cause for concern.
“People are taking their life in their own hands, but people are still willing to take these drugs. Really they are walking guinea pigs.”
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