Mephedrone is the latest in a line of legal recreational drugs to hit the club scene in the UK.
In some countries Mephedrone has been banned. Here it can legally be bought cheaply & easily under the pretext of plant food or fertilizer, or research drugs. A quick google search brings up suppliers who promise to deliver the next day. The sites state that its not for human consumption, & some request a disclaimer be signed to this effect, however the real purpose is patently transparent from the appearance & comments on many of the websites.
Known variously as plant food, plant fertilizer, meow meow, miaow, M- CAT, MC, 4MMC bubbles, drone, meph, bounce, and charge, its intended effects for recreational use are similar to those derived from speed, ecstasy & cocaine. It is described by users as having an instant ‘relaxing but stimulating’ effect. It produces euphoria & hallucinations, causing those who take it to feel good; alert, confident, & full of energy, but these ‘positive’ effects don’t last very long – for about an hour. It is thought to be used by children as young as nine.
Side effects are thought to include nose bleeds, burning mouth & throat, headaches, nausea, high blood pressure, teeth grinding, joint pains, cold or blue fingers, anxiety, panic attacks, agitation, paranoia, heart palpitations, insomnia, weight loss and memory problems. It is also thought to have induced fits & seizures. It is extemely addictive, and a supply bought to be taken over time can end up being used in one go. It is often used in conjunction with other drugs such as ketamine, & this together with the amount taken, can lead to the narrowing of blood vessels & cause cardiac arrest. One user is reported to have ripped off his own scrotum whilst hallucinating that centipedes were crawling over his body & biting him. Because it’s use as a recreational drug is relatively new – surfacing in Europe in 2007- the long term side effects are unknown.
The drug has risen in popularity very quickly. This is in part due to its low cost & the ease at which it can be bought. It produces similar effects to more expensive & illegal drugs without the need to come into contact with drug dealers selling illegal drugs. It is considered to be ‘pure’, sold without being mixed with other ‘more harmful’ drugs or inactive ingredients such as baking powder, though recent deaths have been linked with a contaminated batch.
The argument for banning the sale of Mephedrone would seem to be unquestionable, & the demands for this to happen have increased following the sad deaths of two young friends at the weekend, Louis Wainwright, 18, & Nick Smith, 19.
However, there are those who argue that this is not necessarily the right way to go. They say that there is no conclusive scientific evidence yet regarding its harmful effects. (Though the anecdotal evidence by users is compelling).The deaths at the weekend have been linked with mephedrone, but it is not proven as the cause. Banning the drug will criminalize those who use it, which in itself can have harmful effects. Some evidence shows that banning drugs does not act as a deterrant, and that when this does happen, a new one ‘appears’ to replace it. One suggestion is to put it into a holding class - similar to the class ‘D’ approach used in New Zealand – until more is known about it. This would allow stricter controls & monitoring until such time as an informed decision can be made.
Regardless of the aguments for or against banning Mephedrone, the discussion highlights yet again the underlying issue; the commonplace use of both legal & illegal drugs – including alcohol - by young people going out clubbing for the night. What we should perhaps be asking is, how healthy can it be that for many – perhaps the majority – a good night out can only be a good night out if it involves the excessive use of drugs & alcohol? And what, indeed, lies beneath this widespread self-harm?