European Commission proposes ban on mephedrone | Science| In-depth reporting on science and technology | DW | 20.10.2010
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European Commission proposes ban on mephedrone

While illegal in many countries, the hallucinogen mephedrone is available legally in about half of EU states, as well as Switzerland and Croatia. Now the EU's executive is considering a ban of the drug called meow meow.

Mephedrone is legal in roughly half of the EU

Mephedrone is legal in roughly half of the EU

The European Commission on Wednesday called for a ban of the party drug, mephedrone, also known as "meow meow," which has hallucinogenic effects similar to ecstasy.

While the drug is illegal in 15 of the European Union's 27-memberbloc, including Germany, Estonia and Romania, it remains legal in others, including Spain, Portugal, and Greece.

"Mephedrone is a dangerous drug that is available online and on the street corner,"

Viviane Reding, the EU's Justice Commissioner, said in a statement. "We have a responsibility to protect young people against dangerous new psychoactive substances like mephedrone," she said.

The drug has been linked to 37 deaths in Britain and Ireland and the commission's proposal would make it an offense to manufacture or sell mephedrone. Before it could go into effect, the proposal would have to be approved by the EU's member states.

Predominantly a 'youth phenomenon'

Viviane Reding called for a ban on the drug Wednesday at a press conference in Brussels

Viviane Reding called to ban mephedrone across the EU

Mephedrone hydrochloride salt, as the drug is scientifically known, is a white powder and is commercially available from chemical suppliers on the Internet. Generally, it sells for around 10 euros to 15 euros ($14 to $20) per gram.

In a July 2010 report, the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction in Lisbon said users reportedly experienced "euphoria, general stimulation, enhanced music appreciation, elevated mood, decreased hostility, improved mental function and mild sexual stimulation."

The center's report added that its use is "predominantly a youth phenomenon, in particular of 15 to 24-year-olds, with rates of drug use higher in males than in females, predominantly from urban areas, who frequent clubs, discos and dance events."

While the proposed ban may not have an immediate effect on the drug's user base, it may deter newcomers.

"I think it might have an effect on people who don't have a history of other drug taking," Karen McElrath, an expert in criminology and drug use at Queen's University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, said in an interview with Deutsche Welle.

"If somebody had tried cannabis, alcohol and then they got into mephedrone, I think a ban might have an effect on those people," she added.

Author: Cyrus Farivar

Editor: Sean Sinico

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