MOVES to ban deadly mephedrone are under way following a Wales on Sunday investigation into the highly addictive drug.
Parliamentary questions about the potentially-lethal narcotic were tabled by Welsh MP David Jones after he read how tragic teenager Max Llewellyn slipped into a deep depression and hanged himself after experimenting with the Ecstasy-style party favourite – known on the street as meow meow, MCAT or meph.
At just £5 for half a gram, the cut-price high is cheaper than alcohol.
And after only three years it has reportedly become clubland’s fourth most abused drug.
Shadow Wales Minister Mr Jones, who represents Clwyd West, brought up the issue in the House of Commons this week.
He said: “I was taking on a theme developed in Wales on Sunday because it’s a significant issue in North Wales in particular.
“There have been reports from Flintshire that kids as young as 14 have been using it.”
After quizzing home secretary Alan Johnson about the substance – which can be snorted or popped as a pill – he was assured the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs was treating the issue as an “absolute priority.”
Mr Jones said: “The advisory council is due to report on it next month and I very much hope that it will be banned.
“But as the Home Secretary rightly said it is not just the substance, but the family of substances that need to be included, because manufacturers tend to just change the chemical substances a bit and then you go through it all again.”
Max Llewellyn started using mephedrone last December.
Less than a month later he was found hanging in a forest seven miles from his home.
Before he began taking the narcotic, the 18-year-old Porth schoolboy, from Cymmer, in the Rhondda, was described as happy, popular and had a girlfriend.
His aunt, Angela Richards, 35, said: “That’s good news that they’re going to try and do that, it’s a shame that it couldn’t happen faster.
“I don’t know if it would have stopped Max’s death. I know children are going to experiment with what is out there.
“But I have looked on so many blogs where people are talking about friends who have tried to commit suicide after taking it.
“There are a few different ones I have come across that have said: ‘Stay away from this, my friends have taken it and tried to commit suicide.”
Mrs Richards said she believed mephedrone caused Max’s death.
She added: “He was never depressed before. And they definitely need to do something where they stop them from making something similar if they ban this.”
Other victims have seen their hair fall out and their weight plummet.
One user mutilated his own genitals while hallucinating.
Rhondda MP Chris Bryant backed calls to ban mephedrone. It is already illegal in the US, Israel and Sweden.
He said: “We have already had this one case in the Rhondda.
“I think that of course the Government has got to follow the medical advice and listen to the scientists but it’s clearly dangerous.
“Generally the reason that I believe drugs should be banned is that the more people who take them, the more people are harmed.”
Steve Worobec, Wales’ manager for social carers Turning Point, said: “It’s highly unlikely it will remain legal, they will act on it. “It will be, I suspect, put on the Misuse of Drugs Act.”
He warned it acted like cocaine by stimulating the brain’s pleasure centres.
He said: “It has become a remarkably popular drug in the last six months. I think there will be an illicit market for it if it does become illegal. I think there will be a demand for it.
“And people will have enough connections for there to be an international market. The price may go up or down.”
Janet Roberts of Wales’ drug and alcohol helpline Dan 24/7 agreed it should be banned to “send out a message.”
But she warned: “You’re always playing catch-up because these types of drug hit the street and it takes a while for services like us and other drug agencies to gain that awareness of what people are using.”
by James McCarthy
February 14, 2010
MP moves to ban legal high Mephedrone