DRUG experts have called for action across the board to raise awareness of the dangers of so-called legal highs as the impact of the new psycho-active substances on communities in Scotland was revealed.

Community Safety Minister Roseanna Cunningham was joined by 30 representatives from police, health, community and youth organisations at a conference on the issue in Edinburgh.

Delegates learned how other countries were addressing the abuse of legal highs, which have hit the headlines after claiming a number of young lives.

Last June, 19-year-old student Alex Heriot, from Edinburgh, died at the Rockness music festival in the Highlands after consuming the amphetamime "Benzo Fury".

The pills, which are freely available on the high street, had become increasingly popular after the legal high mephedrone, known as Meow Meow, was banned in 2010 after the death of Ayrshire teenager Jordan Kiltie.

Ms Cunningham said: "Although reclassification of drugs is reserved to the UK Government, we already work with the Home Office and police in Scotland to identify and tackle the supply of new psycho-active substances that threaten public health. This is a constantly evolving challenge due to the complex nature and the apparent ease with which legal highs can be produced and sold."

Legal highs pose a major problem for police and legislators. They are often sold as "bath salts" or "plant food" or labelled "not for human consumption", despite being widely misused.