By Oliver Hill
A HORRIFIED mum from Taunton is calling for the sale of legal highs to be regulated after her 14-year-old son collapsed from the effects of a substance.
Michelle Winfield’s nightmare began on Monday when she got a phone call from a friend to say her son had collapsed in Vivary Park after smoking a legal high called purple haze.
She said: “I went down there and found him on his own in a terrible state.
“He was as white as a sheet, shaking and vomiting.
“I was just beside myself, it was such a worry and I took him straight to hospital.”
Her son was assessed by doctors at Musgrove Park Hospital where his heart was monitored as the effects of the high wore off.
He was later discharged but his mother was asked to make hourly checks on his condition at home.
A friend of her son, also in his teens, claims he bought the purple haze from the Hush shop in Bridge Street. The Hush shop denies the claim.
Purple haze is a strain of cannabis which is currently unclassified and legal to buy at any age.
Michelle said: “I went in there and confronted the shop owner and told him what happened.
“I got abuse from other people there who said that they had smoked this stuff and never had the effects my son had.
“But kids can just go in and buy it with their pocket money.
“They don’t understand that just because it’s cheap and they’re able to buy it doesn’t mean that they should.”
The 40-year-old mum and a group of friends are now starting a petition calling for legal highs to be regulated so that children cannot buy them.
She said: “It needs to be regulated. How can you approve kids buying it?
“I put a message out on Facebook and I was so shocked at the number of parents whose children had taken these legal highs and been rushed to hospital.”
Hush told the Gazette that they have a strict policy of not selling their products to anyone under the age of 18.
Shop owner Simon Tomlin said: “We comply with everything in accordance with Trading Standards and have regular inspections from them.
“We have a no ID, no sale policy and we have a refusal log for any instances where someone cannot provide proof of age.
“Obviously we don’t want her son in hospital and we do everything we can to co-operate with Trading Standards and the police in this very unregulated market.”
Hush said that they have reviewed eight hours of CCTV footage in the shop to determine if and how the purple haze could have been sold to the 14-year-old but found no evidence of this taking place. They added that they were happy to let police view their CCTV records should they feel the case needed further investigation.
It is the latest in a string of incidents where people have been taken to hospital locally after ingesting legal highs.
A group of eight Lithuanian cherry pickers needed medical attention after eating a cake which contained legal highs. The source of the substance is not clear.
A rapid response car and two ambulances attended a property in West Newton after the workers dialled 999, complaining of heart problems and of being hot and sweaty.
A spokesperson for Musgrove Park Hospital said: “We are seeing an increase in people attending A&E suffering from adverse affects from taking legal highs.
“People need to remember that just because they are called legal highs does not mean they are safe to consume.
“Quite often we and the person taking them have no idea what is in them, which then makes it almost impossible to treat when they come into hospital.”