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    Blackburn shop owner arrested after THC vape pens found on premises

    A Blackburn with Darwen Trading Standards officer enforcing the vapes crackdown (Photo via LDRS)

    By: Bill Jacobs, Local Democracy Reporter

    A Blackburn town centre shop owner has been arrested after police and trading standard officers found suspected Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) vape pens on his premises.

    Another retail premises boss has been warned after selling a vape to an underage volunteer in a test purchase exercise.

    The two business owners were caught in two separate operations spearheaded by Blackburn with Darwen Council trading standards officers following tip offs from the public.

    In the last two financial years, they have completed 116 test purchases, and had 24 failures.

    On 17 May Trading Standards completed a joint operation with police following intelligence from a member of the public regarding THC and Spice being sold in e-liquids to young people in Blackburn town centre.

    Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive cannabinoid – illegal in the UK, and Spice is a synthetic drug, also illegal, known to cause “zombie-like paralysis” in users, particularly children.

    Trading Standards carried out an inspection of a retail premises accompanied by a vape and tobacco detection dog.

    A considerable number of products were seized including illegal tobacco, THC vape pens, cannabis and diazepam.

    The operator of the business was arrested and has been released under investigation by the police.

    Trading Standards are now working with the police to ascertain what the items and substances seized are.

    This is the first time that Trading Standards have found THC vapes in retail premises in Blackburn.

    Cllr Jim Casey, the council’s assistant executive member for environment, said: “It is vital that members of the public continue to come forward with any intelligence of highly dangerous products that are available to buy in the borough.

    “Retailers who believe they can sell illegal items should be stopped immediately.”

    On 15 May a separate operation was undertaken across Blackburn and Darwen with 12 premises targeted.

    A volunteer, aged 14, entered the premises with an officer nearby.

    The volunteer asked the salesperson if they could buy a vape however if asked for ID, they said they couldn’t produce one.

    Out of the 12 premises one chose not to challenge the young person and sold them one.

    The business was immediately visited by a trading standards officer who will now attempt to bring the owner and staff to compliance, either by asking them to attend a training course or ensuring they get the correct systems in place.

    If it continues to fail test purchases, further action could result in prosecution and a £2,500 fine.

    Council environment boss Cllr Jim Smith said: “Ensuring that businesses comply with the law surrounding the sale of age restricted products to children is crucial.

    “Our message is clear – comply with the law or be caught.”

    (Local Democracy Reporting Service)

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