Strathclyde Police in Ayrshire is warning teenagers a legal product could cause them to become seriously ill.
In recent weeks, several youths have been admitted to hospital with drug-induced symptoms having taken a white powder known as 'Moonshine'. Moonshine is a non-controlled powder sold in capsules and in loose form. It is thought to contain the chemical mephedrone (also known as 4-mmc and methadrone), a plant food not for human consumption. Moonshine has similar effects to some widely available herbal highs and aphrodisiacs.
When sold, Moonshine capsules are often contained within a small, re-sealable plastic bag which has a cannabis leaf motif on it. The plastic bag is usually held inside a cardboard wrap, which is stapled to seal the capsule within. When sold in this way, the cardboard wrap sometimes states the contents are a plant food and not for human consumption. However, some teenagers are ignoring this advice and choosing to ingest the powder. Moonshine is often sold in adult stores but never openly as a drug. It is usually marketed as a plant food or, in some cases, a bath salt.
Within 15 minutes of being taken, Moonshine users can experience breathlessness and dizziness. The effect is similar to those experienced when using MDMA or amphetamines, and can potentially cause users to become seriously ill.
Ayrshire Inspector Kevin Owens said: "A number of local teenagers have been admitted to hospital having taken Moonshine.
"This is a concern to both the police and local NHS staff who are dealing directly with the effects of the drug.
"Should any youths come into possession of Moonshine, I would urge them to hand it in to the police. It is not illegal to sell Moonshine but it is not a substance meant for human consumption. It is usually sold as a plant food or bath salt but targets those seeking a legal 'high'. Like the product GBL/Liquid Ecstasy, Moonshine is being misused across Ayrshire and could seriously affect the health of users. Anyone offered either substance should decline the offer and report the circumstances to their local police."
Dr David Chung, Clinical Director - Accident and Emergency, NHS Ayrshire & Arran, said:
"Young people need to know that Moonshine is totally unsafe and they are putting their lives at risk.
"Moonshine is a plant food. Please don't think that just because a substance is legal it's safe, as Moonshine is most definitely not. It's safe for plants - but not for humans."
David Thomson, South Ayrshire Council's Trading Standards and Environmental Health Service Manager, confirmed the council was aware of Moonshine.
Mr Thomson said: "We are looking into the product and investigations are ongoing. The sale of Moonshine has rightly been raised as a community safety issue and we will report our findings in due course."
November 22, 2009