Drug charity chiefs have warned of the dangers of legal highs being stockpiled ahead of the national ban coming into force.
The call comes after several leading Scottish charities warned that large quantities of the substances were being stockpiled, with websites off-loading their stock at cheap prices.
The Psychoactive Substances Act — which will ban the supply of any psychoactive substance besides nicotine, alcohol and caffeine — was due to come into action on April 6 but has been delayed by legislative issues.
A new fear has been raised that moving legal highs “underground” could lead people into harder Class A drugs.
Dave Barrie, service manager at Addaction Dundee, said: “After a drop in availability locally due to shops shutting, there may be an influx once these drugs go underground.
“Anything that potentially increases the availability of new psychoactive substances (NPS) or so-called legal high drugs could be extremely dangerous.
“There’s growing evidence to suggest that they are extremely damaging to physical and mental health, and they have been linked with fatal overdoses.
“Users have never really known what they are buying, even when sold in shops. Online, the information is often misleading, and people assume because they are deemed legal, that they are safe. For example, on the street there is a large market for etizolam, which looks a lot like blue diazepam. People think they are buying blue diazepam but it’s really etizolam, and this has been linked to a lot of drug-related deaths.
“If they go underground, people selling these drugs may also be selling a range of other substances, and NPS users may come into contact with the likes of heroin on a regular basis.
“There’s a risk that this exposure could lead people on to harder drugs. We’d encourage people to access support and information through us.”
Danny Kelly, harm reduction team manager for CAIR Scotland in Dundee, said: “Bulk-buying online has always been popular and I would suspect would be the same in this instance, meaning we may see a spike in NPS incidents in the coming months.
“The ban will mean NPS going underground and people maybe not presenting or speaking about their use, so may bring more problems in supporting individuals most at risk.”