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Mephedrone ban welcomed

PUBLISHED: 15:20 01 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:16 30 June 2010

THE decision this week to ban mephedrone and other so-called legal highs has been welcomed by a Great Yarmouth drugs advisory service.

It follows the announcement by home secretary Alan Johnson that the substance, dubbed 'm-cat' and 'meow meow', would be outlawed within weeks.

THE decision this week to ban mephedrone and other so-called legal highs has been welcomed by a Great Yarmouth drugs advisory service.

It follows the announcement by home secretary Alan Johnson that the substance, dubbed 'm-cat' and 'meow meow', would be outlawed within weeks.

But bosses at Norcas, which is based on North Quay, have warned that more needs to be done to make the public aware of the risks of taking the stimulant - linked to a number of deaths.

The charity's chief executive Maggie Williams said: “We support the proposed ban of mephedrone and are particularly pleased that the government is seeking to ban the wider family of these drugs.

“It is however vital that there is a focus on further research into these substances and education so that the general public and especially the young people who may come into contact with them fully understand the possible implications of their use.

“Legal highs are often marketed for alternative uses and state on their packaging that they are not fit for human consumption.

“They have not been subject to properly governed testing procedures over many years. No-one knows the full side effects.”

Mephedrone, which was previously a legal stimulant sold as plant food, will now be classified a class B drug.

A student survey carried out by Norcas found mephedrone was popular because it is easily available, cheaper than alternative drugs and made users happier and more sociable. Like cocaine, amphetamine and ecstasy it generates feelings of euphoria and heightened awareness and is believed to be highly addictive.

Reported side effects include, headaches, palpitations, sickness, high blood pressure, a burning throat, nose bleeds, weight loss, insomnia, anxiety and aggression.

Pressure had been growing to ban mephedrone - one of a group of drugs known as cathinones linked to at least 18 deaths in the UK.

Class B drugs carry a maximum sentence of five years for possession and nine years for supply.

A police spokesman said: “Norfolk Constabulary and our partner agencies continue to work relentlessly to reduce the harm caused by illegal drugs.

“Part of that approach is to ensure that our policies and tactics are adapted to respond to new and emerging trends in offending behaviour.

“Given the recent public concern surrounding the death of young people who may have taken mephedrone, we broadly welcome the Government's decision to classify it as a Class B drug.

“This decision sends out a clear message to young people that this is a dangerous and harmful drug and should not be taken. It will also serve to suppress sales and provide our officers with enforcement powers that will allow us to target those dealing in this drug.”

Norcas provides advice on drug, alcohol and gambling problems and a homeless outreach service.

For more information visit www.norcas.org.uk; call 01493 857249 or email gtyarmouth@norcas.org.uk.


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