Health chiefs have issued a warning about the synthetic drug Black Mamba following seven deaths in Birmingham. Black Mamba was among a raft of so-called legal highs which were outlawed when the Psychoactive Substances Act came into effect in 2016. It mimics the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the main psychoactive chemical in cannabis – but is said to be more potent.

Drug workers in the West Midlands were sent an alert following the incidents, which all occurred in just a few days. Public Health England (PHE) has confirmed that it is investigating the deaths.

“An alert was sent out to commissioners of services and outreach drug workers”, said PHE.

There is no evidence, as yet, to suggest that all the deaths are linked, or are as a result of taking Black Mamba. However, the number of deaths, their proximity and the short timescale has led PHE to alert local services as a precautionary measure and ask them to provide any local intelligence.

There are increasing problems with Black Mamba across the country. Last year, the West Midlands Ambulance Service said it was dealing with 50 cases a week. Paramedics are being called out several times a day to treat people who have taken the drug.

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