A girl of 14 from Moulsecoomb recently died after allegedly taking a combination of methedrone (aka miaow miaow, MMcat) and ketamine. This is one of the first deaths directly related to the “legal” party drug methedrone.
There is very little information available about methedrone to inform users of the possible health risks aside from information scraped together from personal experiences. This death now casts a darker shadow over legal party drug use in Sussex and indeed nationally.
You can’t ignore the rise to popularity of MMcat from last year to now. It has essentially replaced MDMA in Brighton as the upper of choice for most outgoing party folk. Moreover, it is by no means secluded to this market as the death of this young girl demonstrates.
The reason for its ubiquitous popularity is fairly obvious. Methedrone is easily available from both the internet and dealers (you can order it online with a next day delivery: one Facebook group boasts same day motorcycle delivery albeit limited to central London). It is at least half the price of any illegal upper on the market and the lack of information about the drug suggests to some that it is completely harmless. Lib Dem health spokesman Norman Lamb said: “It’s frightening that this drug is available on the internet without anyone having any idea of the dangerous consequences.”
Following the death of this girl the legality of the drug will inevitably be called into question, just as the death of a Sussex student last year led to an inquiry into the ‘legal’ rave drug GBL. A health study will be done into the effects of the drug and no doubt some stomach-turning side effects with accompanying graphic imagery will be discovered and widely publicised. The infinite wisdom of the law attempts to curtail our drug use through an unending series of repression and prosecution. The question now stands, how well is this system working?
The first thing I’d like to qualify is that a person who is informed of the risks of taking a drug does not make an unreasoned decision by taking that drug. Like it or not, people get high from time to time. This fact is too often brushed under the carpet.
This juridical approach of the law to enforcing normal behaviour is ineffective. In order to acquire illegal drugs people are forced to take unnecessary risks to their civil status, purchasing their product through seedy and illegitimate means often with concerns as to the quality of the end product.
Therefore it does not seem such a huge leap in logic to opt instead to purchase a product that falls outside the illegal categories within one of the many legal loopholes that riddle the policy and legislation aimed at curtailing drug use.
Yet it is a misunderstanding to interpret “legal” as permissible, when it is closer to “unknown” and “untested”. Methedrone is a research chemical; there has been no serious medical evaluation of either its short term or long term effects to health. Compare this to MDMA, LSD and cannabis which have all had extensive medical evaluations over the last few years. Their side effects and health risks are relatively well known and appreciated by the majority of drug users such that those who wish to use these drugs recreationally can make an informed and careful decision.
The Catch 22 situation emerges: take the known health risk accompanied with the legal ramifications of getting caught (an especially bitter pill to swallow) or step into the unknown in the relative comfort that one’s decision is legally innocuous. Essentially you’re fucked either way.
In my mind two solutions emerge. Either everyone stops taking drugs (somewhat unrealistic) or there must be a complete overhaul of drug legislation in this country, as the previous chief drug adviser Professor Nutt suggested to the demise of his career.
Legislating against these emerging party drugs misses the point. More legislation breeds more loopholes, which breed more dangerous and unknown risks. The problem needs to be approached from a different perspective, one that acknowledges the health risks whilst also taking account of the desire to use drugs as opposed to ignoring it altogether.