Warnings over so-called 'Legal highs'
6 January 2012
Dr Andy Westwell, in conjunction with colleagues from WEDINOS (the Welsh Emergency Departments Illicit Novel Substances Group), have identified the components of a number of 'legal highs'.
These legal highs are bought online in the assumption that they are relatively safe, but they are not. They may contain controlled contain substances which have not been tested and therefore have an unknown effect on human physiology. Legal highs made headlines recently after a spate of deaths involving mephedrone, also known as miaow miaow.
As part of an ITV investigation, a "legal high" known as NRG-2 was purchased online by ITV. NRG-2 is known to be in circulation throughout the South Wales recreational drug community. The NRG-2 sample drug structure was unequivocally determined by Dr. Westwell to be a chemical analogue of mephedrone, a Class B controlled drug, using NMR spectroscopy. The results of the NRG-2 work and subsequent warnings over the purchase and use of "legal highs" were screened as the lead story on Wales Tonight (ITV Wales) on 21st December 2011.