Page last updated at 21:22 GMT, Tuesday, 22 December 2009

GBL ban 'not enough' says Brighton student's mother

Maryon Stewart
Maryon Stewart wants to raise awareness of the dangers of GBL

The mother of a Brighton student who died aged 21 after taking the drug GBL has said a ban which comes into force on Wednesday does not go far enough.

Maryon Stewart has called for the chemical solvent to be banned since her daughter Hester, a Sussex University medical student, died in April.

GBL becomes a class C drug at midnight but Mrs Stewart said it should be given the more serious class A specification.

The Home Office said it was campaigning to educate young people about the drug.

An inquest into Miss Stewart's death in Brighton in July heard she took GBL mixed with alcohol following an American football awards ceremony and was later found dead in bed.

Nightclub posters

A verdict of misadventure was recorded by the Brighton and Hove Coroner.

The drug is being banned under the Misuse of Drugs Act, along with a range of other so-called "legal highs".

As a class C drug, GBL is ranked with drugs such as tranquillisers and some painkillers.

Mrs Stewart believes it should be ranked alongside heroin, cocaine and ecstasy as a class A drug.

Anyone caught dealing class A drugs can be jailed for life while dealing class C drugs carries a sentence of up to 14 years.

"When combined with alcohol GBL causes death," said Mrs Stewart.

"There are posters up in nightclubs in Europe saying, 'GBL plus alcohol causes death'.

"That's not class C, that's class A."

Hester Stewart
Hester Steward was found dead in bed after taking the drug

Mrs Stewart has launched a website to help improve understanding of the drug.

She is also aiming to raise money for equipment to help analyse former "legal high" drugs and assess their potential danger.

"I feel that if we can actually get something meaningful going and we can change viewpoints and raise awareness and save lives I will have made some sense of Hester's passing," she said.

A Home Office spokesman said so-called "legal highs" were an emerging threat, particularly to young people.

"That is why we are making a range of these substances illegal," said a spokesman.

"We continue to monitor the risks and harms of other so-called 'legal highs', including Mephedrone.

"The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs are looking at these as a priority and their advice will inform our response to these substances.

"We are running an information campaign to educate young people on the dangers of a range of these substances, targeted at clubbers and students."

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