Today see's 'legal high' mephedrone become illegal. The drug has been widely used in the UK for around 12 months, recently it has been at the centre of controversy after being linked to several deaths. The most high profile of these deaths were two young men in Scunthorpe, Louis Wainwright and Nicholas Smith.
However we are still waiting on the postmortem results to be released, considering it has also been speculated that these young men were drinking heavily and taking other substances, one would be excused from being somewhat sceptical that mephedrone was the cause of death.
Despite this a media circus surrounding the drug ensued with everyone throwing in their tuppence worth. Top scientists, former members of the ACMD among others claimed more research was needed on the drug. So far that research is in its infancy but the drug is now banned, criminilising many people as a result.
The increase in mephedrone use was well documented. Possibly worrying that this drug has gone from being completely unknown, to the new drug of choice for thousands in the space of a year. However what was not so well documented was the subsequent drop in the use of ecstasy and cocaine. Albiet the evidence is only anecdotal but this would seem to suggest that the people taking mephedrone are the same people previously taking cocaine and ecstasy. The reasons why they may have switched are surely not difficult to work out. The drug is far cheaper than cocaine, and is being sold at 99.8% purity, so will most probably be better quality than cocaine from your local dealer. Moreover deliveries via post to your front door prevent needless trips to often dodgy places to pick up the likes of cocaine or ecstacy.
Now mephedrone is illegal drug dealers everywhere will have their clients back. Like it or not, recreational drug use is neither new, nor is it going anywhere anytime soon. These same people buying mephedrone will now be going back to their old drug dealers and putting money into the hands of organised crime. Mephedrone sellers on the internet would have been paying tax on their profits, I somehow doubt drug dealers are informing HMRC of their takings.
It's time we stopped the media frenzy surrounding drugs and had an open, honest debate. Portugal has decriminilised many drugs and has seen significant drops in crime and drug use. Britain needs to take a pragmatic approach to drugs and stop continually burying their head in the sand.