Mephedrone still available
In April, 2010, the β ketoamfetamine stimulant mephedrone (4-methylmethcathinone) and several similar compounds were classified as Class B substances in the UK under the Misuse of Drugs Act. Legislation was prompted by public health concerns, with the expectation that these controls would limit availability and use.
As part of our group’s ongoing research into new synthetic drugs, we did an online survey of 150 mephedrone users (average age 24 years) in June, 2010. We have compared our findings with those from a previous online survey we did in November, 2009, and a telephone interview of users in 2010 before the legislation.
Our key objective in this comparison was to assess whether the new legislative control of mephedrone had affected its availability and use.
Of the 150 respondents to the 2010 survey, 95 (63%) reported that they had continued to use mephedrone since the law had changed. 52 of these respondents (55%) said that they intended to continue using the same amount of mephedrone, and 38 (40%) reported that they would now use less. 85 respondents (57%) had bought mephedrone from a dealer, an increase of almost 40% from the 41% who had reported purchasing from a dealer in the telephone study of users done before legislation. In the current 2010 survey, the mean price per gram paid for mephedrone was £16 (mode, £20), compared with a mean price of £10 when the drug
was obtainable online before legislation.
These findings suggest that classification of mephedrone has had a limited effect on controlling its availability and use. Before the introduction of the legislation, users generally obtained mephedrone via the internet
. Now they buy it from street dealers, on average at double the price. We suspect that, in time, there are likely to be reductions in purity, and increases in health harms.
We declare that we have no conflicts of interest.