Home Secretary to ban mephedrone

Mephedrone and its related compounds are to be banned and made Class B drugs following recommendations

from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), Home Secretary Alan Johnson announced.
In addition, the government is taking immediate action to control mephedrone's availability and reduce its harm by: 

  • banning importations - with immediate effect the UK Border Agency will be able to seize and destroy shipments of mephedrone at the border;
  • targeting head shops - the Home Secretary has written to local authorities urging them to use powers under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and medicines legislation to seize mephedrone;
  • informing young people - the FRANK campaign and website will distribute a new 'fact card' on mephedrone warning users of the forthcoming ban and that cathinones, the group of chemicals it belongs to, are dangerous;
  • warning suppliers - police forces and other agencies will be contacting head shops and other premises warning them of the ban and making it clear enforcement action will follow; and
  • issuing health warnings - issuing a health alert through the public health warning system to ensure that all frontline hospital and medical staff have the most up to date information about the harms of mephedrone.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said:
"I am determined to act swiftly on the ACMD's advice and will now seek cross-party support to ban mephedrone and its related compounds as soon as possible.
"I am also taking immediate action to limit supply by banning the importation of mephedrone; sending a clear warning to suppliers about their responsibilities; and using the Government's successful Frank campaign to warn young people about its dangers.
"Mephedrone and its related substances have been shown to be dangerous and harmful, but it is right we waited for full scientific advice so we can take action that stops organised criminals and dealers tweaking substances to get around the law."

Legislation will now follow at the earliest opportunity with a Parliamentary order laid tomorrow. It is hoped with Parliament's agreement the ban will come into effect within weeks.

The move comes after advice from the chair of the ACMD that mephedrone and the family of cathinone derivatives are dangerous drugs and should be controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 as Class B.  The ACMD expressed concern about the harms it can have on the health and well being of users.  They cited evidence that mephedrone consumption can cause hallucinations, blood circulation problems, rashes, anxiety, paranoia, fits and delusions.

Chair of the ACMD Professor Les Iversen said:
"Today, the ACMD has made a series of recommendations to the Home Secretary to control a range of cathinone derivatives, including mephedrone, under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 as Class B drugs.
"The advice we have provided to government is generic legislation encompassing a wide range of cathinone derivatives. This is, as far as we are aware, a world-first for the cathinones.  By proposing this chemically complex legislation - we expect that our drug laws will be more robust and more difficult for chemists to develop new substances to flout the law.
"Our formal Report will be published in the next few days. However, we hope that the advice we give today will assist the Home Secretary to take such actions as he sees fit."

Legislation will now follow at the earliest opportunity with a Parliamentary order laid tomorrow. It is hoped with Parliament's agreement the ban will come into effect within weeks.

Following advice from the ACMD on harms the UK Border Agency will be able to seize and destroy mephedrone and related compounds at the border. This will be achieved by banning them from import by removing these substances from the Open General Import Licence (OGIL).
Mephedrone is currently sold labelled as 'plant food' or as 'bath salts' in an attempt to bypass the medicines laws. Following ACMD confirmation that mephedrone has no use as a fertiliser or bath salts, local trades description teams have been urged to seize mephedrone sold in this way. They will also use medicines legislation to seize samples labelled for 'human consumption'.

Police forces and other agencies will also contact shops known to stock mephedrone warning them of the government's intention to ban it. Such warning ahead of previous bans on so-called 'legal highs' have seen retailers less willing to stock these substances.  Letters from forces will also make it clear the police will take action against those found to have stockpiled mephedrone ahead of a ban.

The former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith asked the ACMD to carry out a programme of work looking into legal highs based on prevalence and harm in March last year. As a result the ACMD provided advice on synthetic cannabionids, these substances were subsequently banned in December 2009 together with GBL and BZP.

Source: © Home Office 

Comments (0)
Write comment
  smaller | bigger

Write the displayed characters


Editor's Feature
Simon Wright
Director of Utilities and Infrastructure,
Olympic Delivery Authority

With just over 2 years to go until the London 2012 Games we are seeing a huge focus in the progress bein...

Are Government penalties for hospitals hindering, ...
Speaking as a Director of Nursing from a small DGH, our C difficile figures are very low, we are rep...
The Coalition: Social Care and Disability
I fully support the need to reform our system of social care but I am concerned that any consultatio...
The time is right for heat pumps
Working for an ALMO in Essex, we are currently looking into several schemes where a centralised heat...
New technology to control energy demand
Working within an existing ALMO with an on-going decent homes programme, which has a large number of...
Sustainable Communities - Securing our Low Carbon ...
As the Programme Works Manager working on a decent homes programme we are very interested in any inf...