Page last updated at 16:05 GMT, Wednesday, 24 June 2009 17:05 UK

Call for swift 'party drug' ban

Maryon Stewart

Maryon Stewart says her daughter would still be alive if GBL had been classified as a drug

The mother of a student who died after taking the so-called "party drug" GBL has met the home secretary in a bid to get the government to ban it.

Maryon Stewart, of Sussex, wants it classified as a Class C drug.

Following the meeting she said Home Secretary Alan Johnson was "committed" to banning the drug for personal use.

Police are investigating whether her daughter Hester, a 21-year-old medical student, unknowingly took the substance while out with friends in April.

I hope banning GBL for personal use will be a swift process
Maryon Stewart

Mrs Stewart, a nutritionist from Brighton, met Mr Johnson on Wednesday.

She said: "We are encouraged by our meeting with the Home Secretary. He has committed to ban GBL for personal use.

"He has a consultation already in progress but he has committed to investigate interim measures to ban it sooner.

"He also intends to consult with the Advisory Committee on the Misuse of Drugs to review the recommended classification and we are hoping that GBL will become a class A drug."

The government has said it was consulting on controlling a range of substances, including GBL, which could harm health.

Sussex Police said toxicology tests showed the student's death was due to GBL in conjunction with alcohol.

An inquest on Miss Stewart, a former pupil at Brighton College who went on to study molecular medicine at the University of Sussex, is due to take place next month.

Hester Stewart
Sussex University student Hester Stewart died after taking GBL

She added: "We called for this meeting because we want to know why GBL isn't classified as a drug at the moment.

"My daughter died as a result of consuming it combined with alcohol.

"It is a colourless liquid which turns into GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyric acid) in the stomach. A small amount of GBL mixed with alcohol can be lethal."

GBL is already banned for personal use in several countries, including the US and Sweden, but is available at some health food shops in the UK and can also be purchased over the internet.

A spokesman for the Home Office said: "The government is committed to cracking down on legal highs in response to emerging threats to public health.

"We are currently consulting on controlling a range of substances, including GBL and BZP, which can harm health.

"We are determined to tackle drug use in all its forms through tough enforcement, education and, where required, treatment; it is absolutely right that we continue to adapt our drug policy to the changing environment of substance misuse.

"Earlier this year we asked the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs to look into harms caused by legal highs. Their advice will be very useful in informing future government policy on controlling these substances."

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