I’ve been peripherally following the hysteria the Brits have been having over mephedrone â€” a legal synthetic stimulant that started gaining some popularity with clubbers.
In March, two young men died (aged 18 and 19) and the media widely reported the cause of their deaths as mephedrone. This, of course, led to national hysteria (directly led by the media) and within a month the government (over the objections of its scientific committee) had taken action to ban the drug.
And now… the toxicology tests on the two teenagers have just come out and show that the youths had not taken the drug.
Professor Colin Blakemore, professor of neuroscience at the University of Oxford, said: “This shocking news should be a salutary lesson to tabloid journalists and prejudiced politicians who held a gun to the heads of the ACMD and demanded that this drug should be banned before a single autopsy had been completed. The only good that might emerge from this fiasco is a long-overdue review of drug control policy.
“The politicians talk about using drug classification as a way of sending ‘messages’ to young people. I fear that the only message that will be sent by the hasty decision on mephedrone is that the drug laws deserve no respect.”
One of the things that makes it hard for me to report on drug news from the U.K. is the tendency for the media there to make up the most bizarre names for drugs.
The use of “skunk” for high-potency marijuana was primarily a media invention, and the term for mephedrone is… “miaow miaow.” Yep, that’s right. miaow miaow. As Wikipedia notes, it was a term that UK newspapers started using in late 2009 â€” “a name that was almost unknown on the street at the time.”
It makes it really hard to take news reports seriously when everybody is bent out of shape over miaow miaow. Of course, then again, it’s really hard to take anything the Mail says about drug policy seriously.