Mephedrone, known as ‘meow meow', is to be banned within weeks but police say users will not be arrested...
Home Secretary Alan Johnson last night promised to force a ban on the legal high mephedrone through Parliament ‘within weeks’.
But the police immediately said users of the drug – also known as ‘meow meow‘ – would not be prosecuted.
Mr Johnson brushed aside continuing chaos at the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs – Dr Polly Taylor, the committee’s designated vet resigned in protest at the Government’s alleged failure to respect the independence of its scientific advisers – to insist the drug would be banned.
An order beginning the process will be laid before Parliament today, sparking a race against time to reach the statute book before the election. Once it is outlawed, the maximum sentence for possession of the drug will be five years in jail.
But police last night made clear they would be targeting dealers rather than mephedrone’s often young users – many of them schoolchildren. Chief Constable Tim Hollis, spokesman for the Association of Chief Police officers, said: ‘Our enforcement will initially concentrate on those people who sell and traffic this harmful drug rather than on the young people who we may find in possession of it. It is not our intention to criminalise young people.’
The focus of the law will be on making it far harder to obtain the drug, which ACMD chairman Professor Les Iversen yesterday revealed had been linked to 25 deaths – 18 of them in England, and the rest in Scotland.
Mr Johnson has ordered an immediate ban on the import of the drug, which is sold over the internet, under the auspices of being plant food. Police and customs have been told to seize the drug before it hits the streets.
(photo credit: Rex Features)