DUP calls for ban on legal highs and 'head shops'
The DUP is to call for a ban on legal highs and laws to tackle the "head shops" that sell them.
A motion will be debated in the Northern Ireland Assembly on Monday afternoon, calling on Democratic Unionist Health Minister Simon Hamilton to work with the Home Office in London to introduce UK-wide legislation.
North Down MLA Alex Easton will propose the motion.
Speaking ahead of the debate, he admitted it was a complex subject to legislate but said it was necessary due to the number of resulting deaths.
Newtownards teenager Adam Owens (17) died last month, hours after taking legal highs.
Mr Easton said: "In our recent manifesto we called for a new UK-wide offence to deal with so-called ‘head shops’ by prohibiting distribution of these substances for human consumption and to classify synthetic cannabinoids based on effects on the brain rather than their chemical composition.
"These were two of the key recommendations from the Home Office Expert Panel Review instigated following correspondence from the DUP Health Minister in Northern Ireland back in 2013."
He added: "There is no silver bullet to tackle the scourge of these substances but we cannot sit back whilst people in our society have their lives put at risk by these dangerous substances and those who peddle them.
"The Assembly can today speak loudly on this issue and I would hope that the new Government at Westminster will listen and finally take action which will help save lives.’
The motion for debate states: "That this Assembly expresses its concern at the impact of legal highs and in particular at the number of resulting deaths; and calls on the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to continue his work with the Home Office to ensure the introduction of new legislation across the United Kingdom to ban new psychoactive substances."