A BAN on the so-called legal-high drug mephedrone is expected to be recommended by government advisers tomorrow.
The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) will call for the chemical, also known as Miaow Miaow or Bubbles, to become a class B drug. Users would face jail terms of up to five years, with up to 14 years for dealers.'
The drug, currently marketed as plant food, has been linked with seven deaths in the last two months.
The Scottish Government has already called for mephedrone to be outlawed, and it has been banned by organisers of this year's T in the Park music festival.
ACMD chairman Les Iversen said last week his personal view was mephedrone was "amphetamines by another name".
He said there was a need for research into the drug's effects before it was banned – which could delay the move. However, he said he would be happy to waive the "normal period of due consideration" between the council's recommendation and a ban being introduced because there was a "national priority… with drug-related deaths".
But former ACMD chairman David Nutt has said giving out small amounts of the drug in nightclubs would be "safer" than a ban. He said criminal gangs would be "rubbing their hands" at the prospect of the drug being outlawed by the government.
Joslyne Cockburn, 18, from Newcastle upon Tyne, became the latest victim last Thursday. She was found dead after a night out with friends who had tried to stop her taking the drug. It was reportedly available in the city for as little as £2 a bag.
Also among the victims is Jordan Kiltie, 19, from Ayr, who died two weeks ago.
Mephedrone was virtually unknown until early last year, but is now one of the most popular drugs in nightclubs and is widely available online.
The drug has a similar effect to ecstasy, producing euphoria and talkativeness. Reported side-effects range from headaches and vomiting to bleeding gums.
The drug is usually a white or yellowish powder, which is snorted, but can also come in pills and capsules.
Other deaths have included Louis Wainwright, 18, and Nicholas Smith, 19, who are thought to have taken the mephedrone during a night out in Scunthorpe together this month.
Their families have joined teachers' leaders in calling for an immediate ban.
By Alastair Dalton
March 28, 2010
Scotland On Sunday
Mephedrone users face jail as ban looms for 'legal high'