THE recent ban on mephedrone could result in the return of more traditional illegal substances to Omagh, according to some young people who use the drug.
As previously reported in the UH recently, the drug known as 'meow meow' has not been available as an over the counter 'legal high' in Omagh, contrasting the trends of 'head shops' appearing in other towns around the country.
But this gap in the market has been filled by enterprising dealers in Omagh and the surrounding areas who have been selling the drug in response to its growing popularity among young people. Dealers previously selling illegal 'class A' substances have also reportedly switched to selling mephedrone viewing it as a much safer option, but just as lucrative a market as their usual staple. It has also been available over the Internet.
However, that is set to change as mephedrone will become illegal as of this Friday after MP's rushed an amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act through Parliament last week.
Mephedrone is generally sold in powder form, sometimes marked as 'plant food'. Users can snort, swallow or mix the powder into a drink for consumption.
The drug has become massively popular across the country since it burst onto the scene last summer. A number of young people in the Omagh area, who spoke anonymously to the Tyrone Herald on their experiences with mephedrone, reported how it has quickly become the party drug of choice for their weekend.
The drug has become so popular to the extent that traditional party drugs such as ecstasy are no longer available in Omagh. But that is likely to change very soon if the price of mephedrone soars as expected when police begin to enforce its illegality.
Mephedrone had originally been sold for £15 a gram in Omagh, dropping to £10 as demand grew. But as the ban was becoming increasingly likely, the price jumped to between £15 and £20 a gram, with some predicting £30 before long.
In contrast, users say they could buy up to ten ecstasy pills for the same price. One man said the high price is "going to stop people taking it as they're not going to want to pay so much when they were only paying £10 two months beforehand, so it's going to actually take other illegal drugs back into the town again."
Users compared the three hour high of 'meow meow' to that of ecstasy, but without the come-down of the party pill. But they also reported that the more often the drug is taken, the weaker the "buzz" from the powder.
Asked whether mephedrone was addictive, one person said, "It definitely is. A lot of people would say that, but I wouldn't consider myself addicted to it."
He added that it was nowhere near the same level of addiction people would experience with nicotine or alcohol. Although not experiencing any negative effects himself, the young man who spoke to the TyroneHerald said he had known some others who experienced paranoia, confusion and even break-downs when taking mephedrone, but he said those people had been massively over-using the drug, taking as much as eight grams in one night.
"It's the same as anything... you take it in measure, if you over-do it you're going to run into trouble.
"It depends on the person as well... if they're easy wound up or naturally paranoid or have addictive personalities, these factors all come into play."
A police spokesperson warned, "Mephedrone has not been tested for human consumption and therefore the effects are not known.
"Users will not necessarily be aware of what has been used to make it, or indeed what substances have been added to it by third parties.
"For health reasons alone members of the public should steer well clear of it. The potential risk from the misuse of any substance, legal or otherwise, always far outweighs any benefit you may think you are getting.
"Local police officers are working very hard to ensure anything which could pose a risk to the health of young people is taken off the streets and we will work with residents and our partner agencies to this end."
By Ryan McAleer
April 12, 2010
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Mephedrone ban will bring other illegal drugs 'back to Omagh streets'