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A drug that is currently legal in the UK but under review. It has been linked to the deaths of two teenagers in Scunthorpe.
The powerful stimulant is one of the most popular of the new generation of legal highs that have been synthesised by Chinese and south-east Asian chemists. Its effects are similar to amphetamine, ecstasy or cocaine and it has risen from nowhere to become the favourite new drug of British clubbers, according to a survey of 2, people by dance music magazine Mixmag.
What the "meow meow"-affected look like
Mephedrone's popularity is said to have coincided with an unprecedented scarcity of MDMA — ecstasy — in Britain after the seizure of 33 tonnes of sassafras oil in Cambodia in June The oil is one of ecstasy's key ingredients. A white, off-white powder or yellowish powder that is usually snorted but can also be swallowed from wraps of paper. It is one of a group of drugs derived from cathinone, an extract from a plant called khat.
Cathinone is related to amphetamine compounds like ecstasy. Mephedrone is the best known but two other similar compounds, methadrone and methylone, are also becoming popular, with methylone most similar to ecstasy in its effects. Methylone costs a bit more.
Brits banned from getting high on plant food
It is available over the internet where it can be marketed as "plant food". Websites that sell the drug insist it is not for human consumption but carry suggestive testimonials from "gardeners" who have used it. Drugscope, the drugs information charity, says there is no ificant clinical literature as yet on the effects. Users reports that this group of cathinones produce a sense of euphoria and wellbeing with users becoming more alert, confident and talkative.
Some have reported heart palpitations, blurred vision and muscle tension, especially in the jaw and face. A major concern has been reports that once users start using mephedrone in a particular session it is very hard to stop, leading to insomnia and hallucinations.
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The legal position is quite complex. The parent drug, cathinone, is among "legal highs" already listed as class C illegal drugs. But its derivatives are not yet listed under the Misuse of Drugs Act This means it is currently legal to possess mephedrone.
It is illegal under the Medicines Act to sell these substances because of their drug effects even if described as "plant food" or carrying a disclaimer such as "not for human consumption". But this only applies to retail shops, street dealers and UK-based websites.
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In the last 12 months mephedrone has been made illegal in Germany, Sweden, and Denmark. The home secretary has asked the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs to establish the scientific evidence on its dangers and to recommend whether it should be banned. The ACMD will consider an update at its next meeting on 29 March but is not expected to make a recommendation until later in the year.
Headteachers and MPs are pressing for an urgent ban, arguing that the Scunthorpe deaths justify immediate action while the research is undertaken. Some ly reported mephedrone deaths have also turned out to be false alarms.
“i'll switch back to ecstasy when mephedrone becomes illegal”
Any home secretary after the election is legally bound to wait for the ACMD's advice before banning a drug. Drugs policy.
Mephedrone explained. Drug sold as 'plant food' and known to users as 'meow meow' is being considered for UK ban. Nicholas Smith was found dead in his home in Winteringham, North Yorkshire.
Alan Travis and Matthew Weaver. What is mephedrone?
What does it look like? What are some of the other names? What's in it? How much does it cost?
How easy is it to obtain? What are the effects? Will it be banned in the UK? What do the authorities say? Topics Drugs policy Drugs trade Drugs Mephedrone. Reuse this content.