Timaru police have already successfully prosecuted two drug dealers selling mephedrone – a cheaper substitute for ecstasy which is causing concern at hospitals around the country.
Mephedrone was unheard of in hospitals a year ago, but Auckland Hospital saw up to 20 people suffering from its effects last year. Wellington Hospital has seen two patients in the past six months.
A Timaru Needle Exchange worker said yesterday that a number of clients had experienced paranoia and delusions after using the drug in powder form.
"There have been a few people getting a bit messed up and anxious with these white powders. They get really paranoid and think they are being chased by policemen and then, after a while, they clear up their thinking – but the next day they wake up and the thoughts repeat. It is like they are recycling in the brain – a bit like a flashback, but it's not flash."
Timaru police sergeant Grant Lord said there had already been two convictions for mephedrone, with one man believing he was selling ecstasy. "They are cheaper and instead of paying $70 to $80 for a tablet of ecstasy, a gram of the analogue can be bought for between $30 and $50.
"They are certainly marketed as an ecstasy-like high. It is an unknown drug that can have a higher high, but the toll on the body is unknown."
Timaru Hospital Emergency Department and the Kensington Alcohol and Drug unit were unaware of instances involving mephedrone.
"While the ED [emergency department] does deal with drug-related instances, in the last 12 months none have been known to be mephedrone."
The amphetamine-like stimulant is illegal to import but is available over the internet. Also known as Miaow, it can induce hallucinations and make users feel excited. It can also cause nosebleeds, nausea, vomiting, blood circulation and heart problems, paranoia, fits and memory loss.
Jan 11, 2011
EMMA BAILEY - The Timaru Herald