A TEENAGER from Torquay is seriously ill in Torbay Hospital after taking a 'legal high' drug — as Crime chief Tony Hogg (pictured below) called for shops selling them to be closed down.
The 15-year-old boy suffered a stroke over the weekend after smoking a mixture of chemicals and tobacco called 'Bubble Bud' which police say was bought from a Torquay 'Head Shop'.
Now it has been revealed that a second young person in Torbay has been hospitalised within the last 48 hours, as well as two other people in Exeter, after taking so-called 'legal high' drugs.
Devon and Cornwall's Police and Crime Commissioner Mr Hogg has called for action against 'legal highs'.
He said: "I want to see the public taking action. If communities decide they don't want these in their towns and villages I am sure the local authorities could find a way to close these shops down.
"Local people should be campaigning outside these shops with placards."
The teenager who suffered a stroke was in a stable condition and it is hoped that he will make a full recovery.
Det Sgt Simon Costin, the manager of the child abuse investigation team for Torbay, said: "He is still on a high-dependency ward. He will recover but he has suffered a stroke.
"The mother has been interviewed by the child abuse investigation team. We are currently investigating a potential issue of neglect.
"From a child protection point of view my personal view is that these legal highs are absolutely lethal and people don't know what they are taking.
"This young man has had a very serious reaction and has suffered a stroke but he is not the only one. We are starting to see a number of these incidents taking place, but fortunately not to that degree.
"He has taken something that is legal. It is called Bubble Bud. It is a mixture of chemicals that is mixed with tobacco in the same way as cannabis.
"As far as we are aware the boy did not buy it himself.
"We understood that it was bought from a shop in Torquay.
"People who are taking these so-called legal highs don't understand that none of these products are meant for human consumption, and that is how these shops circumnavigate the law.
"The shops actually market it as pot pourri. There are two shops in Torquay that sell the legal highs."
Mr Hogg has called for action against 'legal highs' after the Torquay 15-year-old and two Exeter youngsters were all hospitalised at the weekend.
The two in Exeter had taken another legal high called El Blanco. Neither is thought to be seriously ill.
Mr Hogg has met Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer to urge all sections of the community to join forces to counter the danger posed by an increasing trade in the drugs.
He told the Herald Express that buying legal highs online or in Head Shops were a 'growing threat' because legislation could not keep up.
He said: "I would like to see these shops closed down.
"They may mark them as harmful or 'not fit for human consumption' but when they sell them, they know full well that they are going to be consumed.
"The question for young people to ask themselves is this: 'Would you get any product you found under the sink and drink it?'
"The subject of legal highs needs to be brought to the top of the agenda before someone actually dies after taking one of these chemicals."
A police spokesman named two shops in Torquay which sell legal highs as the Mushroom Head shop in Braddons Hill Road West and the Wicked Head Shop in The Terrace.
At Mushroom a member of staff said that the manager was not available to comment.
Jason O'Connor, manager of the Wicked Head Shop in The Terrace said his shop did not and had never sold Bubble Bud.
He said they had been visited by police and child protection staff who had been assured that the items for sale on that shop were not for human consumption.
"We don't sell legal highs at all. We don't sell Bubble Bud, they asked us. They were telling us about someone who got sick. We don't sell things like powders and pills, we do things to burn like herbal incense, not for human consumption.
"I am a father myself I don't support that kind of trade at all. We sell bongs, pipes, grinders, accessories, filter tips, smoking papers and room odorisers.
"We had two in from child protection who said they don't have a problem with what we do.
"I am a smoker myself, but you do not smoke this stuff. I burn it at home as an odoriser as I have two dogs. If you told me you smoked it I would say you are a nutcase."