Page last updated at 21:06 GMT, Monday, 12 April 2010 22:06 UK

Mephedrone to be made Class B drug within days

the "legal high" drug mephedrone
The mephedrone ban led to resignations from the ACMD

Mephedrone will become an illegal drug later this week, the Home Office said.

Following the completion of the formal parliamentary process, the so-called legal high will be classified as a Class B drug from 16 April.

From that date anyone possessing the substance could face five years in prison and the maximum sentence for dealing the drug will be 14 years.

The drug, which is sold on the internet labelled as "plant food", has been linked with several UK deaths.

The move to ban the substance comes despite the resignation of two government drugs advisers over the issue.

Earlier this month, Eric Carlin followed Dr Polly Taylor by stepping down from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD).

Mr Carlin, in his resignation letter, said the decision to ban the drug was made despite there being "little or no discussion about how our recommendation to classify this drug would be likely to impact on young people's behaviour".

He added that the decision to ban the drug was "unduly based on media and political pressure".


ILLEGAL CLASS A & B DRUGS

The chart below brings together drugs data from various sources. Figures for England and Wales and for Scotland are collated separately with the number for England and Wales given first. The numbers of drug users are best estimates calculated from the findings of annual crime surveys. As yet, there are no officially published figures for deaths caused by mephedrone.

DRUGS FACTS AND FIGURES
Drug Type Class More details Number of users Deaths** Street value
*Proportion of 16-59-year-olds in Scotland reported to have used drug in the past year.
**Some deaths may have involved more than one drug.
Cocaine
cocaine
A Stimulant made from coca leaves. Increases alertness and confidence but raises heart rate and blood pressure. 980,000
3.7%*
235
79
£42/g
Crack
crack
A Cocaine mixed with baking soda to form smokeable lumps. Gives intense high but also causes paranoia and agression. 47,000
0.4%*
£10 per rock
Ecstasy
ecstasy
A Causes feelings of well-being but also anxiety and high body temperature. 586,000
3.2%*
44
7
£2.30 per pill
Heroin
heroin
A Sedative made from opium poppy. Can be smoked or injected. Users feel lethargic and content but withdrawal produces unpleasant symptoms. 29,000
0.5%*
897
336
£49/g
LSD
lsd
A Man-made hallucinogenic drug. Effects include out of body experiences lasting several hours. A "bad trip" can cause anxiety. 80,000
0.6%*
Mushrooms
mushrooms
A Hallucinogenic mushrooms growing wild. Users may experience giggling fits, hallucinations and altered perception. 173,000
0.9%*
Amphetamines
amphetamines
A Man-made drugs which increase heart rate and alertness. Users may also feel paranoid. Newer form crystal meth is very addictive. 400,000
2.2%*
99
12
£9/g
Cannabis
cannabis
B The cannabis sativa plant or resin from it. Cannabis is a relaxant but stronger forms can also cause hallucinations and panic attacks.

2,546,000
11%*
19
n/a
Resin £51/oz
Herbal £89/oz
Mephedrone
mephedrone
B Stimulant closely chemically related to amphetamines like ecstasy and cocaine and producing similar experience. Can cause palpitations, nausea and vomiting. n/a n/a £10-
15/g
Class A A 1,189,000
5.2%*
Any drug 3,240,000
12.6%*
2,928
574


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