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Home Secretary bans mephedrone

30 March 2010

Mephedrone and its related compounds are to be banned and made Class B drugs following recommendations from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), the Home Secretary Alan Johnson announced today.

Comprehensive advice

He said, 'I am determined to act swiftly on the ACMD’s advice and will now seek cross-party support to ban mephedrone and its related compounds as soon as possible.
 
'Mephedrone and its related substances have been shown to be dangerous and harmful, but it is right we waited for full advice so we can take action that stops organised criminals and dealers tweaking substances to get around the law.'
 
With Parliament’s agreement, the ban should come into effect within weeks.

Class B

The move comes after advice from the chair of the ACMD that mephedrone and the family of cathinone derivatives are dangerous drugs and should be controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 as Class B. 
 
The ACMD expressed concern about the harms it can have on the health and wellbeing of users. They cited evidence that mephedrone consumption can cause hallucinations, blood circulation problems, anxiety, paranoia, fits and delusions. Mephedrone is currently sold labelled as ‘plant food’ or as ‘bath salts’ in an attempt to bypass existing legislation. The new legislation will be by way of a generic definition to prevent suppliers switching to new versions of the substance.

World-first

Chair of the ACMD Professor Les Iversen said, 'The advice we have provided to government is generic legislation encompassing a wide range of cathinone derivatives. This is, as far as we are aware, a world-first for the cathinones. By proposing this chemically complex legislation, we expect that our drug laws will be more robust and more difficult for chemists to develop new substances to flout the law.'

Further action

Additionally, the government is taking immediate action to control mephedrone’s availability and reduce its harm by:

  • banning importations
  • targeting head shops
  • informing young people
  • warning suppliers
  • issuing health warnings 

In 2009, the ACMD investigated 'legal highs'; following the council’s advice, synthetic cannabionids and GBL and BZP were banned last December.


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