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Enter the mephadrone controversy, into the world of legal highs. While mephedrone is a popular street drug in the U.K., the government is moving to ban it. But members of the drug committee are resigning because of the government's hasty decisions are not based on sound science.
Mephedrone is the hottest street drug in the UK. The legal drug isn't sold like a drug, but marketed as plant food and bath salts. On the street mephedrone is called 'meow meow' or 'plant fertilizer'.
Not only is the drug cheap, it is readily available. Its rising popularity over the past 18 months is hardly surprising. The stimulant drug is manufactured by Chinese chemists and shipped to dealers or directly to drug users who order it on the Internet. At last count, there were more than 30 websites selling the drug.
The white crystals are snorted, or smoked or eaten. People claim it makes them feel like they are taking ecstasy and cocaine — except in this case, mephedrone gives them a legal high. But that might soon change as concern grows over the safety of the stimulant.
Two teenagers died after taking mephedrone, prompting the U.K. government to push for a ban on the drug. However, seven members of Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) have resigned because the decision to ban the drug isn't based on scientific evidence. The problem is that once a drug is made illegal, it never goes back. And it hasn't been used long enough for scientists to really know the long-term effects of the drug. Former executive of Mentor UK, Eric Carlin, called it quits last week as he aired his reasons in his resignation letter to the ACMD. We need to deal with it as a health issue, not criminal justice issue, Carlin told the BBC.
In the same radio segment, the BBC reports:
And Professor Colin Blakemore, a former head of the Medical Research Council, warned against disbanding the council, as "decisions about the legality of drugs and the classification of drugs is being made essentially by politicians and red-top newspapers."
Users have claimed that it makes them feel alert, more verbal, and more confident. Others have said it caused blurred vision and even insomnia and hallucinations after prolonged use. The chemical structure of mephedrone is similar to ecstasy.
While mephedrone use has been booming in Britain, it is not all that common in the United States. In spite of that, North Dakota has already made mephedrone illegal.
But even though it is legal in most states, it could still land people in prison. According to AOL news:
U.S. law rules that any chemical that produces a "substantially similar" effect to an illegal drug is automatically outlawed. As Mephedrone is chemically similar to the controlled substance cathinone, possession of the drug in the United States could land users in jail....
However, as Mephedrone seems to have addictive properties – many users report feeling the need to take repeated doses – it's certain that some people will continue to buy after the ban. And it's the health of these users that really has experts worried. As the drug only took off in the U.K. around 18 months ago, there's almost no scientific research on its long-term effects. Martin Barnes, chief executive of nonprofit drug research center DrugScope, points out that although the narcotic ketamine (originally a tranquilizer) was outlawed four years ago, it's only now that regular users "are losing bladders because of the effect on their urinary system. Long-term harms can take some time to show through."
Apr 5, 2010
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Why is it that nobody wants anyone to have to ever take ANY responsibility for their actions or choices?! Those actions and choices come with consequences, known or unknown. Pretty soon the public will want the government to tell them when to go to the bathroom and when to sleep. It's getting out of hand, folks. I'm an American, and things are just as bad (if not worse) on this side of the pond. Oh, and before I am labeled as someone who doesn't "get it" I wanted to mention that I am a former heroin-addict and a current recreational drug user.
Why is it that nobody wants anyone to have to ever take ANY responsibility for their actions or choices?! Those actions and choices come with consequences, known or unknown. Pretty soon the public will want the government to tell them when to go to the bathroom and when to sleep. It's getting out of hand, folks. I'm an American, and things are just as bad (if not worse) on this side of the pond. Oh, and I also wanted to mention that I am a former heroin-addict and a recreational drug user.
Mephedrone is a dangerous drug, and because it's so cheap and simple to obtain it's spreading incredibly quickly. I know many people who use it occasionally and responsibly, and I've taken - and enjoyed - it myself before without any more problems than feeling like death the next day. But I also know people who have become really, powerfully addicted to it, ending up staying up for four or five days straight taking more and more, then crashing out, sleeping through the next few days and doing it again without any concern for anything going on in their lives. Some have dropped out of university and a couple have ended up in hospital with heart problems. I've been on plenty of nights out and to plenty of parties where there are more people on mephedrone than off it. Hell, there are facebook groups advertising same-day delivery in towns across the country. Pretty much everybody I know who actually has experience with it agrees that it's just too addictive to be legal. The people who seem most opposed to banning mephedrone seem to be those getting up in arms about media sensationalism without actually knowing a thing about the drug or its effects. From down here, where mephedrone use has been pretty widespread for the last six months, banning it now seems late.
The tabloid media here in Britain has been at its hysterical worst over mephedrone. I don't take it, I don't care about it and I don't know if the world would be better without it, but it is probably going to be banned and when it is, it'll be for the wrong reasons. How many people have died because of alcohol or tobacco over the last twelve months? And how many times have these more socially-accepted "legal highs" been subjected to "killer drug claims another victim"- type headlines? I'm not saying either nicotine or tobacco should be banned, but when the danger is out of proportion to the response, it's another victory for hysteria over logic. Sad.
Just because two molecules look similar doesn't mean they act in a similar fashion. Take a close look at a caffeine molecule...