[h2]A new and dangerous type of drug that offers users a "legal high" has been identified by researchers, as dealers attempt to exploit a loophole in the law. [/h2]
By Lucy Cockcroft
Last Updated: 1:58PM BST 07 Oct 2008
The cathinone pills take their active ingredient from the khat plant, commonly used as a stimulant in east Africa, and are sold in nightclubs for between £3 and £6 each.
Although cathinone is a controlled substance, scientists say new compounds have been deliberately chemically modified to produce a significant high, while circumventing the law. Doctors have warned that the side effects can be just as dangerous as illegal amphetamines. Some users of cathinone - often called "herbal ecstacy" - have experienced a rapid heart rate, raised blood pressure, high temperatures and seizures.
Dr Paul Dargan, from Guy's and St Thomas' hospital poison unit in London, said: "These are individuals who present with clinical features that are very similar to established recreational drugs such as ecstasy, amphetamine, cocaine and ketamine."
Legal pills based on a group of drugs called piperazines, of which BZP is the most common, have been available for some time, but steps are being taken towards criminalising their use.
In early 2009 they will be designated as controlled substances in the UK, under a European directive. The emergence of cathinone pills, which are openly sold on websites, suggests that manufacturers are a trying to find ways around the change in law.
John Ramsey, from St George's Hospital in south London, analyses the content of legal high pills and other substances found in nightclub "drug amnesty" bins. He said: "The very latest ones we have seen are cathinones. They are being sold as a safer alternative to ecstasy and I guess that there are a group of people who really want to engage with the dance scene and engage with their friends and don't want to break the law."
It is not known how many of the pills are sold in the UK, but one website supplier told drug researchers that they were shipping more than 3,500 into the country every day.
Source: Daily Telegraph in the UK.
Bummer to see they'll be a controlled substance in the UK in 2009. Fecking EU laws are spreading everywhere. Another typical scare tactics article, no figures or facts, just hearsay and a comparison (inaccurate at that) to all those 'dangerous' illegal ones.