Mansfield MP Ben Bradley has called for former legal high 'mamba' to be reclassified as a class A drug, similar to heroin and cocaine.
Mr Bradley addressed MPs in an adjournment debate to reclassify the drug from it’s current status as a class B substance.
During his speech, Mr Bradley asked the Government to consider the incredibly damaging effects that these drugs have on both individuals and society and to reclassify synthetic cannabis as a Class A drug. He also discussed the benefits of creating a national strategy and framework to help the police and support services to successfully tackle this issue.
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Mr Bradley said: “Mamba and spice were initially seen as an alternative version of cannabis, but they bear a resemblance to harder drugs. Their impact is more comparable with heroin.
“I’m pleased that the government has banned them, but i’m concerned we’ve not gone far enough. It’s damaging my community in Mansfield as we speak.
“Some users are going from mamba to heroin, as there is more support for people to quit heroin than there is for mamba, which goes to show they are not comparable with cannabis.
“The sight of people slumped against walls in a zombified state is horrific. It’s awful for other people in the town - I've had to explain to my three year old son that the man on the floor isn’t dead.”
"We need a national plan for local police to buy in to, a better support network for users, and in my view we need to strengthen the law so that more can be done to deal with the challenges presented by Mamba and Spice. It’s impacting on local residents and on our town centre, I literally get messages about it every single day from constituents. Clearly more needs to be done.”
Mamba is highly addictive and the withdrawal symptoms of Mamba and Spice are said to be worse than coming off crack or heroin. Users frequently vomit, suffer seizures, have terrifying hallucinations and severe psychotic episodes. There have been a number of deaths related to mamba and other synthetic cannabis drugs in recent months and there are concerns that children are now accessing these drugs.
Possession of class B drugs currently carries a sentence of up to five years in prison or an unlimited fine or both, whereas possession of class A drugs carries a sentence of up to seven years in prison or an unlimited fine or both.
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Mr Bradley praised local support services such as the Nottingham Recovery Network for their work to support vulnerable users but argued that the Police need more powers to deal with this problem and that the courts need to issue stricter penalties.
Nick Hurd MP, the minister for policing and the fire service, responded to the debate on behalf of the Government.
Mr Hurd committed to keeping the issue under review as well as continuing to support cross-sector collaboration to ensure a more joined up approach between the various agencies that have been involved. He also highlighted the additional funding that the Government has provided to help rough sleepers (one of the largest consumers of these synthetic drugs) with Nottinghamshire receiving £370,000 over two years to provide a rough sleeper prevention service locally.