CHURCHGOERS are protesting against the opening of a legal high shop called Misty Heaven – just two doors away from their drug addiction centre.
Members of the St Andrew’s Church in Arbroath, Angus, are “absolutely horrified” and fear lives in the town could be in danger.
The church runs a drop-in centre, called Havilah, which helps people who are addicted to drink and drugs.
But just two days away, at number 11 Fisheracre, the Misty Heaven has opened, selling legal highs, chemical drug compounds described as “research chemicals”.
And between the legal high store and the church drop-in centre is a chemist – where drug addicts pick up their methadone.
Legal highs are at the centre of growing national concern and have been linked to a series of deaths and other serious incidents involving youngsters.
Members of St Andrew’s Church are planning to gather outside Misty Heaven on Saturday to “raise awareness”.
The Rev Martin Fair of St Andrew’s Church said: “We are running a service trying to combat and address drug problems in the town and, lo and behold, two doors down we have a new retail outlet selling legal highs.
“I did wonder if these folks set up here deliberately, thinking there might be a steady stream of clients.
“The building that comes between us is a chemist and a whole number of our clients go there for their methadone prescription.
“The fact that it’s right on our doorstep and right in our parish has brought it to our attention and I know some of our guys have gone in there.”
The over-18s shop have been using fliers that feature a background of cannabis leaves, offering customers 10% off their first online order.
It is the second legal high shop to open in Arbroath, following on from the success of Declaration in Brothock Bridge
Mr Fair added: “Havilah has been in operation for seven years now, which is our direct response to addiction problems in the town.
“We became aware of the legal high shop opening in Brothock Bridge and I was really surprised and thought it was the last thing our town needs.
“A new one has opened up two doors away from our Havilah building where we are doing all this good work, which is the cruel irony of it.”
Havilah project leader Tracy McLeod said: “The scary thing is there’s no way of knowing what kind of reaction taking these drugs will have on their bodies.
“Everyone is different – what acts as a high to one person could be a killer for another.”
Misty Heaven owner Kenny Grant said: “We’re not doing anything wrong. What we are selling is not illegal. It’s people’s choice whether they buy it.
“I don’t want to say any more because I don’t want to get into a religious argument with the church.”
Legal highs are typically labelled as research chemicals, plant food, bath crystals or pond cleaner and carry the warning, “not for human consumption”.
Experts warn that the drugs, such as Benzo Fury, are modified versions of illegal substances and can be as deadly as Class A drugs such as cocaine or heroin.
A Glasgow man recently tried to murder his father during a drug-induced psychotic episode caused by legal highs.
Christopher Tait, 27, repeatedly stabbed his dad Gordon, who has multiple sclerosis and was lying sleeping in his bed. He pleaded guilty to attempted murder in court earlier this week.
Former legal high Meow Meow was banned two years ago and given Class B status, after it was linked to 42 deaths.