Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Doing What the Press Probably Wouldn't/Shouldn't Do - Chatting to a Dealer About Mephedrone

I have discovered that I really enjoy researching stories if I talk to people you wouldn't normally have thought of. There's nothing like spicing up a story with an intelligent conversation with a total shot in the dark.

Here is the latest installment of my somewhat obsessive coverage of mephedrone/MM-Cat/MMKAT/miowfuck or whatever you want to call it. I'd prefer if you called it mephedrone, cheers. It makes you sound less like a 50 year old trying to sound 'down with the kids' (as I got told when I was interviewing somebody. Aaaawkwaaardd...)

I was going to write this up properly in true Biscuit-style oh-look-a-nice-story-interview um, style, but due to a combination of HUGE loads of uni work and the fact that I don't want to stifle my source with my own inane prattling, I've just left it as Q/A. Hope you don't mind. I know it's shabby journalism, but it's not like you're paying for this page, is it?

So, to find out more information on mephedrone - in particular it's popularity, it's make-up, where it came from and where it's likely to go, I tracked down a dealer who has asked me to name him rather ironically as "The Botanist". As a self-confessed drugs-nerd, I feel that he was the most interesting person to ask about synthesised cathinones, and he's probably the most informed, if I'm totally honest.

So here he is, for your reading pleasure.

Hope you learn something :)

> How quickly did Mephedrone's popularity spike?
> Mephedrone was only first synthesised about 2 years ago, and since then it's popularity has exploded. New research chemicals are being created all the time and this particular one gained great attention from enthusiasts of such substances, it was only inevitable that it would gain interest from the general public after a while.

> What do you think has made it so popular with party-goers?
> At the current moment in time there is a drastic shortage of MDMA, due to increased enforcement against it's production in china. for the past 2 years it has been difficult for people to acquire, and ecstasy pills are now being contaminated with all sorts of other substances to mimic the effects of MDMA. This unsatisfied demand has been filled with mephedrone, as well as several other research chemicals which have similar effects to MDMA. It's legality has also made it incredibly cheap to produce, making it cost as little as £5 a gram when bought in bulk. It was inevitable that a new research chemical was going to fill this gap in the market! (Also, it is important to remember that even MDMA was a research chemical a few years back!)

> Have you ever sold anything else?
> No, although it's not the legal aspects of the drug that make it appealing to sell, but the availability and popularity more than anything else. As well as the ability to buy it in bulk for discount prices.

> Is it the legal aspect of the drug that makes it appealing? Or is it the effects or even the price and availability?
> All of these factors are important in different measures to different people. the legal aspects affect mainly price and availability which are the main factors of attraction, as most people accept that even when caught with a substance like this in a club, it will likely be confiscated anyway, or assumed to be an illegal drug.

> Do people know what they are buying, or are they buying it simply because somebody else told them about it? (Sort of 'monkey see, monkey do')
In most cases, people will try it when offered it by a friend and if they decide they enjoy it, they will attempt to buy some for themselves at a later date. very rarely will someone buy a drug without trying it first, especially with a drug like this which, at a party, at least a few people will be willing to share.

> Have many people asked for methedrone or anything else by accident simply because they weren't too sure of what MMCAT was?
Yes! many people mispronunciate it's name, which in certain situations could be dangerous (such as ordering from a chemical supplier.) methedrone is a distinctively different research chemical, which is reported to be highly dangerous in fact! also, M-Cat (methcathinone) is another different drug, which is already illegal in the UK. technically the correct way to reference mephedrone, would be by it's designated name mephedrone (of course :p) or by the name 4-MMC, or 4-MM-CAT. it is, however, acceptable to drop the '4' and just call it MM-CAT.

> How many people roughly thought it was actually thought it was plant food?
>Probably half of people aware of the substance believe that there are actually people out there who feed it to their plants. Feeding it to your plants will either do nothing at all, of just kill them! It's important to understand that the whole 'plant food' label is only assigned to such substances in order to bypass the Medicines Act, which states that such untested substances can't be sold for human consumption.

> Do people simply not care what it is, just as long as it has the desired effect?
> To a degree, yes. especially with the misinformation spread by the media regarding the substance, people still accept that it is incredibly dangerous but will still take it. this is not unusual though, as most people who are willing to take drugs accept that it is not good for them but still take it for the desired effect. (I met someone who took MDMA, but also believed that MDMA use drains your spinal fluid! This is completely wrong or course)

> Would people still take it in similar quantities if it was illegalised?
> I believe that if it was criminalised a year ago, it would have faded into obscurity. however, mephedrone has since gained a lot of popularity and i believe that people will still consume it after criminalisation. criminalising it now will only serve to hand over control to organised crime, subsequently making the drug much more dangerous to take as well as putting money into the pockets of those who do not deserve it.

> Do you ever feel like you know more about designer substances such at Mephedrone, 2-CB, 2-CI, Methelone etc than those enforcing laws against them?
> In short, yes. however the ACMD who serve to advise the government regarding such substances are very knowledgeable indeed, although it is my opinion that their intelligence is wasted on trying to find evidence to back up legislation that the politicians have already decided on, as opposed to providing impartial information and letting the government base legislation on their findings. Also, it's spelt 'Methylone'. :p (Whoops - Biscuit)

> Has anybody attempted to arrest you for possessing a legal substance despite it's legal status? Are you wary that this might happen?
> I've never been caught by the police with any legal research chemicals, although i feel i am knowledgeable enough to convince them that what i possess is legal. when in public with more than a few grams, i always carry a reciept or the original packaging in order to prove what the substance is. (I never buy it in large quantities from anyone other than reputable companies so i always have some form of reciept.)

> Why do you think mephedrone is popular in Leeds especially, especially mixed with Ketamine?
> I have not heard of many good experiences with mixing mephedrone with ketamine, and am unwilling to try it myself due to the limited information regarding mephedrone taken on it's own, never mind with other drugs. in leeds however, i think the large student population is responsible for the inflation of mephedrone use in this area. it's low cost makes it appealing to students on a limited budget!

> Has the original rush of popularity worn off, or are people still into it?
> Absolutely not! i think that the initial rush of popularity is still in effect, and use will continue to rise until it's inevitable criminalisation. Most people who have taken it in the past continue to take it at later dates.

> What, in you opinion, is going to be the "next big thing"?
> There are countless number of research chemicals being developed all the time, and with criminalisation of mephedrone some of these similar research chemicals will also fall under legislation (Methylone, Butylone, Flephedrone to name a few). There are chemists around the world, however, who are researching into just that, the 'next big thing'. as soon as mephedrone is criminalised the most promising research chemicals will be sold to replace it. one of these is MDPV (methylenedioxypyrovalerone), although anecdotal reports of use of this substance don't sound promising (think amphetamine-like insomnia and tachycardia). I am confident, however, that better, safer chemicals will take mephedrone's place than MDPV, which personally I am unwilling to try.

> Is legalising substances ever going to change the way people think and act about drugs?
> I would definately think so, but it would seem that attitudes towards drugs need to change BEFORE anything is legalised. currently the media love the opportunity to create a scare story about a 'dangerous new drug called meow meow' and would prefer to sensationalise such reports as opposed to disseminate useful truthful information. It appears to be a classic vicious circle.

> Do you find it interesting that there is a small correlation between the rise in the use of Mephedrone and the fall in the amount of Ecstasy seized on the streets by police officers?
> Absolutely not, however i believe that mephedrone use is the effect of this fall in ecstasy use, as opposed to the cause. The active chemical in an ecstasy pill (MDMA) is in drastically short supply since about 2 years ago, and ecstasy pills have subsequently been filled with substitutes to mimic MDMA's effects. one of these is BZP, which was also a legal research chemical until this year. personally i believe that BZP is an awful substitute and this attitude seems to be shared with most other ecstasy users, hence the drop in 'ecstasy' use. other ecstasy substitutes in pills at the moment include amphetamine, 2C-B and of course, mephedrone!


Becca said...

Interesting article, do you think it should be made illegal? I did and still do kind of but hearing his opinions definately made me think. I read this yesterday, Charlie Brooker never fails to make me laugh :) http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/mar/22/charlie-brooker-newspapers-dangerous-drug xx

Katie said...

Yeah I saw Charlie's contribution to the debate haha. He talks a lot of sense in his own crazy way!

I'm not putting my opions down until I've done more research. I want to remain impartial until I make my conclusions. I've still got a little bit of work to do on this subject :)

Glad you found it interesting :)

chestymorgan said...

I've learned more in the last few minutes reading this than at any point in the last hysterical month or so in the press.Excellent,as per.

I so hope they dont make it illegal though;I foresee many more deaths if they do

dAb said...

Interesting. Explains why some of the 'pills' my partner and I have taken in the last year or two have had wildly varying effects in comparison to what we have known as good MDMA.

We tried 2CB and found that to be very pleasant, but we've found a lot of these 'plant food' things to make us a bit green around the gills generally.

Anecdotally; a friend of ours attended a funeral recently - 27 year old mixing mephedrome with ket and coke I think. Worrying. :(

Thanks for the article! :)

Katie said...

No, thank YOU for reading!

It just goes to show that information needs to be shared, or deaths will happen. That sounds like a totally irresponsible cocktail to take (apologies for my insensitivity) and had they heard more about the possible effects, it may have helped them change their mind (or their dosage).

The fact that throughout my dissection of the news stories claiming that mephedrone alone can kill, I have had to change various quotes due to their validity/truthfulness has been erased from said newspaper's web page (To use an example, the Daily Mail recently claimed that a DI for Humberside Police stated "Anybody who has taken MM-CAT should seek medical attention immediately". This quote has since been erased, with no trace of it to be found anywhere else on the internet. Misquotation in any case is abhorrent, but i n this case it is also dangerous and in all intents and purposes, scare mongering.).

It is proving to be a very interesting subject to study, and I doubt this will be the last I write about it.

Chris Terry said...

My dear Biscuit. This is the type of REAL journalism that is completely lacking in the mainstream press. Absolutely superb.

Katie said...

Oh! Thankyou so much Mr Terry! :)

dAb said...

Drat. I'm guilty of getting my facts muddled here. I've just checked with my other half and the friend of a friend's lethal cocktail was actually Mephedrone and GHB.

From what I've heard GHB can be extremely dangerous in itself. The poor lad went into a coma and died. :(

Sorry to misinform. And, keep up the good work Shiny Biscuit! :)

Andy said...

The Police are spreading the lies now!


Al Smith said...

I personally have lost hope with most mainstream media outlets as I learned time ago that incorrect information plus public paranoia leads to stupidity.

A prime example being the recent swine flu epidemic of 2009. On holiday, over the previous summer my brother had fallen ill on the day of departure. That even having arrived at the camp site, the parents of our cohabitant in the tent (he was over 18, and his parents also involved with the group) demanded he be moved because it might be swine flu and I became greatly insulted after I explained to them the symptoms of swine flu and how a large majority (some 85%+ of cases, don't quote me on that) were mild and that only a few people worldwide had actually died from the disease, most being bedridden for about 2 weeks at the most. They didn't seem understand a word I was saying preferring to live in their own ignorance. Idiots.

This is a similar situation with the recent news coverage of mephedrone. There seems to be a concensus that everything you see on the news must be true even if the reporters claim that there is no evidance to support it. It is the stupidity of the public that causes most of these. In fact, constant news coverage is also counterproductive to their goals in a way. If we had not made such a huge fuss about it in the first place, bugger all people would know about and as the Botanist says it would have probably faded into obscurity a long time ago.

I also had a friend whose girlfriend had ended up in a coma for several days after taking mephedrone. My first initial question was 'What else did she take?' and got the response that the girl in question had been drinking large amounts of alcohol and a good amount of ketamine. Yet despite this, he still tried to lecture me about how terrible mephedrone is, having it be responsible for putting his girlfriend in a coma, as if the ketamine and alcohol had not even contributed to it.

What the government and media need to do is stop spreading propaganda about issues that could be dangerous or that we should generally. Most of the deaths (about 2) that mephedrone have been linked to have been cases where the user had been mixing the drug with other substances.

We need to educate people about drugs and specifically to be honest about them. Yes, they teach about drugs in schools but a lot of this tends also to be government propaganda. It has not stopped people from drug taking, but it does not give them correct information so that when these kids do try drugs they are unaware of the possible dangers involved.

I apologise Katie, I appear to have gone on a rather long rant.

佩璇 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
bristle said...

Nice post, though (you asked for constructive criticism!) I think you need to be clearer about 'The Botanist's bona fides. Whilst I think s/he speaks common sense, and I concur with the general points raised, there's nothing there to make the general or neutral reader to feel that this narrative is any more accurate than the Metro-style KILLER MEOW MEOW MENACE frontpage-hoggers.

PS Sort out the rogue apostrophes in the possessive 'its'! ;-)

Katie said...

Thanks for reading :)

Its/It's is not my strong point I have to admit.

What would you suggest would make The Botanist a believable source? Because I can't really say much more than I have...he's a dealer and he has a pseudonym....I don't think there are many dealers who have a doctorate or some kind of useful well-known status haha

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