Legal highs are being stockpiled ahead of a new law which prohibits their sale, Scottish drugs charities have warned.
The UK Government’s Psychoactive Substances Act was due to come into force this spring but has been delayed, prompting public health fears.
Two charities, in Edinburgh and Aberdeen, report that users have been stocking up on thousands of pounds worth of the substances in recent months.
Kenny Malcolm, from Aberdeen charity Alcohol and Drugs Action, said people have been stockpiling legal highs for the last six months.
He told BBC Scotland: “We know of people who have thousands of pounds worth of these drugs in their houses” adding, “my fear is that people will start dealing”.
His concerns were echoed by Emma Crawshaw, of Edinburgh-based charity Crew 2000. She warned that the delayed implementation of the new law has led to people “double stockpiling”.
BBC Scotland reported that online vendors are capitalising on the delay and offering huge discounts on the lethal substances.
It found that some suppliers are advertising ‘buy two, get two free’ offers, 20 per cent off or free delivery on orders over a certain amount.
According to Ms Crawshaw, this could result in users increasing the amount of drugs they take:
“If people are in a position where they’re finding it difficult to control their intake, having more stuff in front of them is bound to be more of a risk for them.”
The Psychoactive Substances Act will outlaw “any substance which is capable of producing a psychoactive effect in a person who consumes it”, with the exception of things like alcohol and caffeine.
Until now legal highs have been banned on a case-by-case basis. However, manufacturers are often able to get around the law by tweaking the chemical composition of the drugs.
The Home Office says the new law has been delayed while the Government develops a testing programme.
A spokesman said: “The landmark psychoactive substances act will fundamentally change the way we tackle these drugs and put an end to unscrupulous suppliers profiting from their trade. Our message is clear: offenders will face up to seven years in prison.”