A 'legal' drug which can be bought over the internet is being used as a substitute to cocaine by people afraid of being targeted by vigilante group, RAAD, a former user has claimed.
Mephedrone, a grey/white powder which is sold as plant food, is swamping Derry's streets with people buying it cheaply in bulk to sell.
But police in Derry have warned it will come under the Misuse of Drugs Act later this year.
George (not his real name), who is now receiving help for his addiction, said the drug is as dangerous as cocaine and easy to get.
He said: "It started getting big in Derry about four months ago. I would have started taking it two months ago.
"I was taking cocaine at the time and I started using it as a substitute, which is why most people are using it. And because of RAAD, people think it is safer. It is more freely available too.
"I started taking the mephedrone because there was wasn't much cocaine about at the time and anything that was around was not pure. So mephedrone came into the picture and I was introduced to it.
"When I took it, it was similar to ecstasy and then I started taking it as a substitute to cocaine. Instead of spending £500 a week I was spending £80. My friend was buying it in bulk off the internet from £75 for 10 grams and he would be selling it on for £35 a gram compared to cocaine, which is £60-£100 a gram."
A number of websites selling the drug warn that it is not for human consumption, yet they sell the substance in 1gm and even 0.5gm bags. One website says: "If we suspect that any person wishing to buy mephedrone is intending to use the product for human consumption then we reserve the right to refuse to sell to that individual."
George said he experienced highs with the drug but severe lows. He said: "By the end of it I was thrown into the depths of depression. It gives you really bad lows. It is potent stuff. You start off on a really big high and you could keep taking it but never reach the high again. It is like chasing the dragon.
"It is hard to say but if you were that way inclined it is addictive.
"Afterwards I felt really run down, tired, anxious and paranoid. It is similar to cocaine in that way. Most places I have been to with friends it is there. It is very popular at the minute and is taking over the cocaine scene."
He added: "It is a war the government won't win because all they do is change a molecule and the whole thing changes."
January 15, 2010