POLICE in Plymouth are warning people about a 'legal' drug found in the city which has been implicated in the death of a Brighton teenager.
The warning follows the dramatic seizure of two-and-a-half kilos of suspected mephedrone on Friday afternoon at a Coxside flat.
Drugs investigators have revealed they have made several small seizures of the drug found on young people in the city in the past few weeks.
Mephedrone is imported mainly from China and sold as a plant fertiliser online, although it is banned from being sold when advertised for human consumption.
Earlier this month youngsters from both Scotland and Teesdale were admitted to local hospitals after taking the addictive 'legal high'.
The drug has also been reported in other parts of the UK, including Brighton where 14-year-old schoolgirl Gabi Price suffered a cardiac arrest and died at the city's Royal Sussex County Hospital on November 21.
Plymouth police's Drug Liaison Officer Det Con Stuart Payne said the discovery of the drug in Plymouth was of great concern.
He said: "It has the same effects as Ecstasy and cocaine, but it does cause serious weight loss, paranoia and serious illness. It leads to soreness of the nasal tract and throat, stomach problems and sickness.
"Mixed with alcohol it could have a lethal effect, as we believe has happened recently in Brighton.
"We know it's being used by a lot of young people. It's not a banned drug as such as it hasn't been classified."
The drug has a host of 'street' names including 'meow meow', 'meph', 'bath salts', 'M-cat', 'bounce', 'mad cow' and 'bubble'.
The drug is illegal in Israel, Norway, Finland and Sweden. Psychiatrists in the UK have lobbied for it to be banned here.
Det Con Payne said officers had three confirmed cases of mephadrone seizures plus another four suspected seizures which were still being analysed.
If the latest seizure of two-and-a-half kilos of white powder at a flat in Lockyer Quay is confirmed as mephadrone, it will be the largest seizure of the drug in the South West to date.
Sold at between £10 to £15 a gram, the latest seizure could have a street value of anything between £25,000 and £37,500.
However, it is the health issue which most worries police.
Det Con Payne said: "We're warning people not to use it. It has been implicated in the death of a teenage girl in Brighton and another in Sweden.
"We want young people to be aware of the serious health problems and fatalities which arise out of the use of this drug.
"In addition, if you are found with such a drug on you by police, officers will arrest on suspicion of a controlled drug and you will bailed until it is analysed."
Comment – Page 10
Two men were arrested on suspicion of possession of one kilo of a class A drug cocaine at an address in Lockyer Quay and have been released on police bail until February 1.
December 1, 2009
This Is Plymouth
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Lethal new legal drug found on the streets of Plymouth