Seven EU member states have now banned mephedrone. Mephedrone is already illegal in 15 EU countries. The report finds that the substance may cause harm to health similar to other stimulants like MDMA, amphetamines and cocaine. It may also cause dependence.
A Europol-EMCDDA report on mephedrone is now released containing an detailed overview of available knowledge about its use and harm. The report is first step of the formal EU procedure to consider whether to adopt any control measure such as a ban.
The report has been reviewed by the Council of the European Union which in its conclusion has asked the EMCDDA to formally conduct a risk assessment. On the basis of this the Council will then decide whether to ban it.
If the Council decides to do that, Member States has 12 months to implement the decision in national law and to set criminal sanctions. The Council will take a decision this autumn.
Negative health effects and dependency
The report states that "it appears that the desired effects and common adverse effects are similar to those seen with other stimulant drugs such as MDMA, amphetamines and cocaine. The acute health effects seen in mephedrone toxicity are broadly similar to those seen with other stimulant drugs.
Users report ‘craving’ in relation to mephedrone use which has the potential to lead to mephedrone dependency, and there are confirmed reports of mephedrone-dependence occurring. There has been one confirmed fatality attributed directly to mephedrone use."
See press release from EMCDDA here
See article about the formal EU procedure to ban new psychoactive substances.
Download the entire Europol-EMCDDA mephedrone report here:
Summary of findings (quote from report)
5.1 Mephedrone is a synthetic cathinone, and is the common name for 4-methylmethcathinone. It was first detected in November 2007 and notified via the EMCDDA’s Early Warning System in March 2008.
5.2 Mephedrone is legally available over the Internet where it can be bought in retail quantities or in bulk. In the last two years, mephedrone and mephedronecontaining products are aggressively marketed by various online mephedronespecific suppliers as a ‘legal-high’ – a legal alternative to ecstasy or cocaine. In some Member States users may source mephedrone from specialised shops (head/smart shops) or street level drug dealers.
5.3 Twenty Member States as well as Croatia and Norway reported to Europol and the EMCDDA seizures of mephedrone in powder form or tablets, ranging from 2 grams up to more than 130 kilograms of mephedrone seized, the latter equalling approximately 260 000 tablets.
5.4 There is currently limited information to underpin large-scale processing an distribution of mephedrone and the role of organised crime. However, with one Member State reporting the involvement of organised crime in trafficking and another confirming organised crime involvement with two seizures of large scale tableting sites as well as several seizures of tablets with different logo imprints suggests a possible increasing involvement of organised crime in the trafficking and wholesale distribution of mephedrone.
5.5 Five Member States indicate that legal production and distribution takes place from Asia and in particular China with one Member State confirming such importation during 2008.
5.6 There are no published studies on the pharmacokinetics or pharmacodynamics of mephedrone in animals or human volunteers. Information on the effects of mephedrone is limited to unconfirmed user reports. From these it appears that the desired effects and common adverse effects are similar to those seen with other stimulant drugs such as MDMA, amphetamines and cocaine. There is detailed information available on the acute health effects associated with mephedrone toxicity from clinical case series. The acute health effects seen in mephedrone toxicity are broadly similar to those seen with other stimulant drugs.
Users report ‘craving’ in relation to mephedrone use which has the potential to lead to mephedrone dependency, and there are confirmed reports of mephedrone-dependence occurring. There has been one confirmed fatality attributed directly to mephedrone use.
5.7 Evidence of mephedrone use and associated toxicity has been increasing, in 2009 and 2010, particularly in the United Kingdom.
5.8 There are limited reports of crime and anti-social behaviour related to mephedrone use and supply.
5.9 Five Member States control mephedrone under drug control or equivalent legislation and two Member States regulate mephedrone under their medicinesrelated legislation.
5.10 Mephedrone is currently not under assessment and has not been under assessment by the UN system.
5.11 Mephedrone has no known medical use (human or veterinary) in the European Union. There is no marketing authorisation (existing, ongoing or suspended) for mephedrone in the EU or in the Member States which responded to the EMA.
5.12 The main precursor of mephedrone, 4-methylpropiophenone is available on the Internet. There are no indications that mephedrone may be used for other purposes. There is no information that mephedrone is used for the manufacture of a medicinal product in Europe. However, in the absence of an EU database on the synthetic routes of all registered medicinal products, the collection of information cannot be considered exhaustive.
The health and social risks caused by the use of, the manufacture of, and traffic in, mephedrone, as well as the involvement of organised crime and possible consequences of control measures, could be thoroughly assessed through a risk assessment procedure as foreseen by Article 6 of Council Decision 2005/387/JHA.