A group of students are set to become human "guinea pigs" in an experiment to test the effects of "legal high" drug mephedrone.
The 50-strong team will be recruited by John Moores University (JMU) in Liverpool to report the effects of the drug which has recently been linked to a number of deaths.
Pressure is mounting on the Government to ban the substance, which is known as Mcat or Miaow Meow.
Two teenagers, Louis Wainwright, 18, and Nicholas Smith, 19, were found dead in Scunthorpe, after allegedly taking the high.
It can be snorted through the nose, like cocaine, or dabbed on the tongue.
Marketed as a type of plant food, packets bought over the internet are labelled "not for human consumption" to exploit a legal loophole.
The public health department at JMU has won "ethical approval" to begin researching the drug with the help of students determined to get their weekend thrills.
Volunteers who take mephedrone will be put in touch with scientists based in the university laboratory.
While getting "high", they will be questioned by university academics throughout the night about their different states of consciousness.
Tests will study their thoughts and ability to think coherently, as they are asked to describe how they feel on an "adjective bar", with "sad" or "depressed" at the bottom and "euphoric" or "very happy' at the top.
Further tests include matching objects to numbers and being asked to recall logical sequences.
Their responses will be inputted into a database and volunteers asked to attend a post-interview, some days later, to analyse their "come down."
But academics were keen to stress they were not supplying the substance to students and those taking part would already be using the legal high regardless of the university tests.
Dr Cathy Montgomery, senior lecturer in psychology, said: "Nobody is an expert in mephedrone. "It's only in the last year that we've seen use of it. Most evidence comes from people anecdotally.
"They liken it to a euphoric stimulant, similar to ecstasy.
"People say it increases energy, openness and improves their sociability. It can also lead to pupil dilation, goose bumps, and blood pressure and heart rate going up.
"Supply of mephedrone is relatively easy, and the substance itself relatively pure.
"Students here at Liverpool JMU tell us they prefer to use mephedrone over the drugs they were using before. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs is to issue a report into a group of legal highs, including mephedrone, at the end of this month.
Mephedrone is already illegal in Israel, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
March 22, 2010