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Mephedrone banned and made Class B drug

Possession now carries a maximum jail term of five years for the drug previously known as the ‘legal high’
By
WebMD Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Farah Ahmed
bag of mephedrone

16th April 2010 - The drug mephedrone is banned throughout the UK from today. It was made illegal and classified as a Class B drug at midnight under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

The change in the law means that possession of mephedrone carries a maximum five year prison sentence, while supplying and trafficking could lead to a maximum of 14 years in jail.

Pressure to ban

The government announced its intention to ban mephedrone at the end of last month, acting on advice from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. At the time, the Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, said he was “determined to act swiftly” and get cross-party support for a ban. Parliament agreed to change the law before it was dissolved ahead of the general election.

Pressure had been building for a ban, with media reports linking mephedrone to several deaths. In March, head teachers joined the call for the government to act after the deaths of two teenage friends from Scunthorpe who had reportedly taken the drug. The heads expressed concern that a drug which had been favoured by ‘clubbers’ was beginning to infiltrate classrooms.

Clearing the shelves

Ahead of the ban coming into effect, trading standards officers in England and Wales have been contacting retailers urging them to hand over stocks.

  • In Norfolk staff reported that two businesses had handed over stocks of so-called ‘plant food’ which were believed to contain mephedrone
  • In Haringey in north London local government officers have been enlisting the help of the public in identifying where mephedrone might be on sale
  • In North Yorkshire council staff have been checking on internet sales of mephedrone which have been labelled as innocent products like ‘bath salts’

Councillor Paul Bettison, Chairman of LACORS, the Local Government Association body responsible for overseeing regulatory services, says in an emailed statement: “The law on so-called legal highs has been too murky for too long. Councils are seeing more mephedrone users and their families turning to them for help, advice and support and it will be a relief to many people to see the substance made illegal.

“Council staff have not being idle ahead of the change in the rules. Work has been taking place to ensure supplies of mephedrone are handed over to the authorities so that this potentially damaging drug is cleared from shelves as quickly as possible.”

However, from today the police assume responsibility for dealing with the sale and possession of mephedrone.

The ban in Scotland

Similar preparations have been made underway in Scotland where police officers have been visiting retailers to ensure compliance.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government welcomed the decision to ban mephedrone, adding that “the Minister for Community Safety Fergus Ewing has been calling for this for some time”.

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