03 June 2010
An order from the Health Minister to place tighter controls on the drug mephedrone by changing it from a Class C to Class B controlled drug came into effect yesterday (2 June). This is in recognition of the dangers of using this new designer drug.
Mephedrone has been a controlled drug in Jersey since November 2009 when it was originally placed in Class C. Growing evidence of its dangers has led to the reclassification.
Mephedrone is a stimulant drug similar to both ecstasy and amphetamines (speed). It has been sold as a ‘legal high’ or even ‘plant food’ and has many street names including Meow-Meow and Meph. Users face the combined risks of both ecstasy-like drugs and amphetamine-like drugs. Typical side effects include:
- abnormal heart rhythms
- agitation and paranoia
- severe nosebleeds
It is believed to be very compulsive and can create psychological dependence, and its risks are even greater if used with alcohol or other drugs. A number of young people have needed treatment this year at the hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department after taking mephedrone. Mephedrone has been linked to a series of deaths in the UK and further afield.
Deputy Medical Officer of Health, Dr Susan Turnbull, who is a member of Jersey’s Misuse of Drugs Advisory Council, said “It is right that the legal penalties for using - or, even worse, supplying - mephedrone are now more proportionate to the harm we now know it causes. My advice to anyone considering taking new substances, usually marketed as ‘legal highs’, is:
- don’t be a human guinea pig
- if you don’t know what’s in it, then don’t take it
- never believe that if something is ‘legal’ then it must be safer than substances that are not. New ‘legal high’ designer substances that are even more dangerous than mephedrone could be with us soon. You could be the next statistic
Health Minister, Deputy Anne Pryke, said “I am pleased that we have been doing as much as possible in Jersey to protect Islanders from these new dangers. We do not want to see any young Jersey lives lost to mephedrone, or to any new substance that may arrive next on our shores. We will continue to tackle the problem, working across Health and Social Services and with our police colleagues.
“Getting the information young people need to protect themselves from danger is a key element of our approach.”
Further information and advice is available from the Youth Enquiry Service on +44 (0) 1534 766628 and the Alcohol and Drug Service on +44 (0) 1534 445000.