In a very weird arrangement, the county town of Maidstone in Kent, England, about 32 miles south-east of London, has a complex on Mill Street which houses the rehab charity Crime Reduction Initiatives (CRI). On the bottom floor of the complex, UK Skunkworks, a legal high franchise has opened up a shop to sell its wares.....
Drugs downstairs, rehab upstairs... Legal highs shop UK Skunkworks to open in Maidstone under anti-drugs centre
by Nick Lillitos
Welcome to perhaps Britain’s most mismatched neighbours - a shop selling drugs downstairs and a rehab unit upstairs.
A controversial retail franchise selling so-called "legal highs", is opening in Maidstone... right under the noses of an anti-drugs charity.
The shop selling substances known as designer drugs will operate at street level while just two floors above in Mill House, Mill Street, sits the rehab charity Crime Reduction Initiatives (CRI).
It works with other service agencies to help offenders come off drugs. Some 75% of young people who enter treatment with the charity are said to have stopped using them.
The shop opening below them is part of an extensive franchise operation called UK Skunkworks and is perfectly legal.
It sells drug smoking equipment, party pills and pellets called Benzo Fury. Earlier this year, 19-year-old student Alex Heriot was reported to have died at the RockNess Festival in Scotland after using the substance.
The colourless stimulant is inhaled and is said to have psychedelic effects.
Landlord of the shop being leased by UK Skunkworks is London-based Daniel Epstein.
He said: "I know about this. As far as I’m concerned I've just let it out. What they do with it is up to them."
Behind metal shuttered windows, carpenters are putting up shelving for the latest skunk shop which businessman Max Mulley, who runs five of them elsewhere, said will be opening in a "few weeks’ time".
"The shop won’t be mine, it will be run by another franchise person," said Mr Mulley, who foreshadowed some weeks ago a skunk shop would be coming to Maidstone.
He said at the time: "It’s a big town with a university and lots of students and so there should be demand."