Page last updated at 16:51 GMT, Thursday, 11 February 2010

Scottish government moves to ban 'bubbles' legal high

mephedrone
Mephedrone is also known as "bubbles" or "meow meow"

A "legal high" drug linked to the death of a woman from Fife should be outlawed, the Scottish government has said.

Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing has written to the Home Office calling for mephedrone, commonly known as "bubbles", to be banned.

Mr Ewing told MSPs the sooner the drug became illegal the better.

Police have said legal highs such as solvents and plant food were dangerous because their effects were unknown.

A 49-year-old woman is thought to have died after taking bubbles at a house in Dunfermline last month.

A separate incident in Methil, Fife, involving seven people who had taken a substance known as "white magic", prompted Fife Constabulary to issue a warning about the dangers of taking legal highs.

Health affects

Mr Ewing said: "I wrote to the Home Office last week to stress the importance of finding a solution to this problem.

"I'm of the view that these synthetic cathinones can be as harmful as any other illicit drug and therefore should fall under the Misuse of Drugs Act as soon as possible."

The Scottish Parliament currently has no power in this area with responsibility for banning or reclassifying drugs lying with Westminster.

Mephedrone, a white powder, is sold legally as a plant fertiliser but has become popular among some as a recreational drug.

Mr Ewing said the Scottish government has included legal highs in its drug awareness campaign 'Know The Score'.

Dundee West MSP Joe Fitzpatrick has previously claimed the drug "bubbles" was a particular problem in the city.

"The use of mephedrone can cause adverse reactions and in extreme cases can actually cause the death of users," he said.

The minister highlighted reports from late last year of five young people in Dundee who needed treatment after taking mephedrone; two of whom required hospital attention.

A report by Liverpool University academics also found a number of "serious adverse" health effects associated with its use, Mr Ewing said.



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SEE ALSO
'Legal high' warning after death
27 Jan 10 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife
What is legal high mephedrone?
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