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Review pledged over use of legal high drug mephedrone

By Finn Mac Cool, Mar 17, 2010 | Updated: Mar 18, 2010 | | |
  1. Finn Mac Cool
    Review pledged over use of legal high drug mephedrone

    The legality of the drug mephedrone will be examined "very speedily, very carefully" following the deaths of two teenagers, Lord Mandelson has said.

    The business secretary said the government would take "any action that is justified to deal with this".

    Louis Wainwright, 18, and Nicholas Smith, 19, died in Scunthorpe on Monday after taking the drug.

    The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) says a ban of the substance should be considered.

    Lord Mandelson said the government would "take any action that is needed... to avert such tragic consequences occurring in the future".

    He also admitted that he had never previously heard of the drug.

    The government has also asked the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) to examine the dangers and report back.


    Recreational drug with effects similar to amphetamines and ecstasy
    Sold as a white powder, also found in capsules and pills or can be dissolved in a liquid
    Often sold online as plant food marked "not for human consumption"
    Completely different drug to methadone, which is a pharmaceutical drug typically used as a very strong painkiller or to treat heroin addicts
    Reported side-effects include headaches, palpitations, nausea, cold or blue fingers
    Long-term effect of taking drug unknown
    Currently legal to buy and be in possession of the powder, but against the law to sell, supply or advertise the powder for human consumption under the Medicines Act
    Already illegal in Israel, Denmark, Norway and Sweden

    Plant food

    Professor David Nutt, who chairs an advisory group called the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (ISCD), said he supported the home secretary's position "that a rush into classifying mephedrone is premature".

    He added: "The ISCD takes seriously the potential risks of mephedrone use.

    "It is discussing this matter at its meeting on 23 April. It is also liaising closely with the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, which is currently reviewing the situation across the continent and will report in July."

    Mephedrone is known by various names, including "M-Cat", "MC", "mieow", "meow", "4MMC" or simply plant fertiliser.

    It is usually a white or yellowish powder, which is snorted, but can also be obtained in pills and capsules. It is marketed as plant food.

    Police made three arrests following the death of the two teenagers.

    NAHT general secretary Mick Brookes told the BBC the use of the drug had become more widespread.

    He said: "This drug clearly has the same inherent dangers as any Class A drug and I think serious consideration should be given to banning it.


    "The problem with that is that you then criminalise the people who take it, so we need to think very carefully about what we do, but act with some speed."

    Some heads say the drug should be made illegal immediately - even if it risks some children getting a criminal record.

    Schools have become increasingly worried that because the drug is legal, children as young as 12 are trying it.

    BBC science correspondent Tom Feilden said the ACMD was asked by the Home Office last year to examine the use of legal highs such as mephedrone.

    A sub-committee was set up to do just that, and was due to report back this month, our correspondent added.

    Is it too easy to buy a 'legal high'?

    However, the work of the committee on legal highs stopped following the dismissal of Prof Nutt as its chief drugs adviser last October. He was sacked after publicly disagreeing with the government's decision to re-classify cannabis as a Class B drug and not to downgrade ecstasy.

    Five ACMD members then resigned in the row that followed Prof Nutt's departure.

    Club scene

    Websites selling the drug have told their customers it is a case of "when" not "if" mephedrone will be banned.

    The two teenagers who died were found collapsed at their homes after a night out in Scunthorpe.

    Humberside Police said the drug appeared to have contributed to their deaths. They had been out drinking in the hours before they died.

    Head teacher Mike Stewart: 'We need help'

    Two men, aged 26 and 20, and a 17-year-old boy have been arrested in connection with the incident.

    Post-mortem examinations are being carried out.

    Mephedrone has become popular on the UK club scene in recent months.

    Its side effects are said to include psychosis, palpitations, burning throat, nosebleeds and insomnia.

    Page last updated at 11:32 GMT, Wednesday, 17 March 2010

    Link includes radio report and two video reports.


  1. Finn Mac Cool
    Professor Nutt actually makes a good point in one of those videos, whereby they would create a new class (class D) have strict quality controls, proper labeling, then they can collect information on sales and harm and then decide whether it needs banned or not.
  2. EscapeDummy
    This is bizarre, I'm not used to reading articles which are so thorough, well written, and error-free about mephedrone as this one.
  3. Finn Mac Cool
    It's quite informative for a change.
  4. missparkles
    Lord Mandelson hasn't heard of mephedrone? Now why am I just not surprised? :s

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