Manchester is in the grip of a Spice epidemic according to The Manchester Evening News.
In one weekend Greater Manchester Police have revealed they dealt with 58 Spice linked calls in less than three days this weekend.
A senior officer said the epidemic in Manchester city centre was putting 999 services under immense pressure.
Chief Superintendent Wasim Chaudhry from GMP’s City Centre team said: “We are doing all that we can to tackle the issue of people taking Spice in Greater Manchester. This is a problem that we cannot afford to get any worse.
“We have increased the number of specially trained officers to try and combat the issues and help those using Spice to access the support they need but to also ensure that danger of Spice is clearly communicated.
Spice – often dubbed ‘fake’ or ‘synthetic’ cannabis – is made from dried plant material, chopped up herbs and man-made chemicals.
Some of the ingredients in Spice are similar to those in marijuana, but the substance is often much more potent.
It was invented in the US by an organic chemist who was looking for a new way of developing anti-inflammatory medication.
One of the substances included the synthetic cannabinoid ‘JWH-018’.
Spice unfit for human consumption
The substance was declared unfit for human consumption in 2006, but it began being sold on the internet two years later, advertised as a plant fertiliser.
A ban on legal highs – including Spice – came into force in May last year and offenders who break the new laws will face up to seven years in prison under the Psychoactive Substances Act.
One homelessness worker describes Manchester city centre right now as ‘a disaster zone’.
This has not happened overnight. That human beings are rotting away in our busiest public place has been evident for a long time.
Piccadilly Gardens and the streets around it have become a powerful magnet for human tragedy and criminal behaviour, throwing the city’s dark side into stark relief against its gleaming successes.
Two years ago The Manchester Evening News revealed a ten-fold rise in police call-outs relating to that drug and similar substances, including, violent episodes and attempted suicides.
Those who work with the homeless have been warning of the epidemic in the city for at least that long. And yet it is only very recently that Manchester council has considered drawing up a strategy to deal with it.
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