A POWERFUL party drug imported as plant feeder product is on the rise in Australia.
Australian Federal Police confirmed yesterday that since January 1, customs officials had seized 23.4 kilograms of mephedrone, which has the street name ''miaow''.
Large batches were recently discovered hidden inside children's toys and nappies, bound for Victoria. And NSW Police confirmed the drug had made its mark onto the Sydney party scene.
On February 19, 24 grams were uncovered at a music festival at Wisemans Ferry. Seizures were also made at Avalon and Moore Park in Sydney late last year.
''Miaow'' is available online for as little $20 a gram. It is marketed as being able to make your garden grow, but experts say it is a few ''molecular tweaks'' away from MDMA, or ecstasy.
''Miaow'' has become the latest craze in Britain, where users can have it express delivered to their door within hours. There are concerns Australia is facing a similar epidemic.
A federal police spokesman said there had been numerous detections and arrests, adding ''typically the detections were low weights''. A NSW Police spokeswoman said: ''We are aware of ecstasy alternatives. The latest substitutes are analogues of methcathinone, particularly mephedrone.''
She added: ''Mephedrone is an analogue of methcathinone and is therefore a prohibited drug under the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act.''
Internet plant food providers have been overcoming legal hurdles by carrying small disclaimers stating the drugs should not be consumed by humans. But sites such as www.discofood.co.uk and www.rave gardener.org are an indication of their true target market. When The Sun-Herald contacted suppliers last week, they confirmed regular orders were being mailed to Australia. The people behind www.slyplants.com, said: ''We've had customers from Australia and although it takes a while to arrive (two to three weeks), we never had any issues.''
Others warned Australian authorities were onto the scam. Plantfoodpalace.co.uk said: ''Some orders have arrived and a few haven't. You may want to think about it before ordering. If the package gets stopped in customs with your address on, you may get in a lot of trouble.''
Little is known about the long-term health effects of miaow because until recently, it had never been used as a recreational drug. For now, health experts are having to rely on first-hand accounts of users, posted online. One wrote: ''I had tried all types of different mushrooms, amphetamine, 2c-B and 2c-I in small and big doses but this was the first time I ever felt real euphoria … the euphoria hit me like a truck.''
The worst aspect was ''the amphetamine and MDMA-like side effects'', including jaw tension, increased perspiration, loss of appetite, depression and ''methylone brain'' - ''the state of mind where you can't remember what you were just talking about''.
WHAT IS THIS SUBSTANCE?
The chemical name for mephedrone is 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylcathinone (4MMC). Popular street names include MDMC, ''miaow'', ''miaow miaow'', MCAT, bubbleluv and drone.
The drug is a close structural analogue of MDMA and is being used by party-goers as an alternative to ecstasy.
Users claim the drug combines the effects of ecstasy, amphetamine and cocaine, sparking euphoria, talkativeness and increased sensitivity.
The drug is believed to be manufactured in Chinese laboratories, then online sellers bypass British drug laws by marketing it as ''plant food''.
March 7, 2010
Sydney Morning Herald
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Miaow: ecstasy-like drug hits streets