Concern has been sparked over the increasing presence of a dangerous legal high in Worksop which can cause hallucinations, schizophrenia and in some cases death.
Black Mamba is a synthetic cannabinoid which mimics the effects of the Class B drug cannabis - but could carry “more harmful effects”, according to drugs advice website Talk to Frank.
Alan Diggles, chief executive of Worksop homelessness charity Hope Communities, said he had noticed a rise in the number of service users in the town abusing the “toxic” drug.
He said: “Unfortunately, some of our service users are substituting Black Mamba for cannabis, but its side effects are shocking.
“It’s preying on those who are vulnerable. I hope the law catches up quickly with those peddling something so toxic and nasty.”
David Verity, a solicitor based in the town, said that the drug was “taking over in a big way” at a recent court case in which the defendant, Carl Richardson, aged 37, pleaded guilty to missing court appointments after smoking the drug.
This week 34-year-old shoplifter Gary John Storey also appeared at Mansfield Magsitrates’ Court after taking ‘two puffs’ of the drug and going on to suffer ‘bad side effects’.
The court heard how Storey experienced ‘anxiety and an accelerated heart rate’ after taking Black Mamba, and later stole items from Morrisons in order to buy heroin which he hoped would counteract the side effects.
Yvonne Wragg, mitigating, said: “It hit him very hard on this occasion. A friend advised him to take a ‘downer’.
“That is why he stole food from the shop to buy heroin. It’s had a very, very bad effect on him.”
MP for Bassetlaw John Mann said he was working to tackle the drug along with all other legal highs in the district by calling on the Government to impose a blanket-ban.
Bassetlaw district commander Inspector Neil Bellamy said: “We recently executed a warrant at a house in Worksop where a quantity of Black Mamba had been prepared for sale with other drugs.
“There is no doubt that the emergence and use of synthetic drugs, such as Black Mamba, is an increasing issue in communities across the country, not just Worksop.
“Legislation has now made Black Mamba an illegal Class B drug, but there are varieties of the drug available and it is often not until analysis has been completed on drugs that have been seized that we can determine whether the type we are dealing with is illegal or not.
“Quantifying the scale of the problem is difficult to do, but we are working with our partners in the health service and Trading Standards, Nottinghamshire County Council Community Safety and Bassetlaw District Council to clearly identify the sources of the drug in our community and how we can effectively respond to it. If you hear of it being used, please call us on 101.”
Sarah Houlton, from Nottinghamshire County Council’s Trading Standards and Community Service team, said: “We are working with Nottinghamshire Police, district and borough councils and public health colleagues to find ways to tackle the problem of new psychoactive substances across the county.
“We look forward to working with partners to enforce forthcoming new legislation from Government that will ban the sale of these substances.”