Legal high similar to Crystal-Meth enters Jersey's drugs scene
A POWERFUL psychoactive drug similar to Crystal-Meth - one of the most dangerous illicit substances in the world - has entered the Jersey drugs scene, a senior Health official has warned.
The Health Department is now on alert after the drug known as MPA, or methiopropamine, which has been responsible for up 15 deaths in the UK, started to flood the local market.
The lethal substance can be bought online for as little as £20 a gram through UK-based websites, and officials are now so concerned by the emergence of MPA that they are working to make it illegal in Jersey.
Under current laws MPA is not illegal to possess, however it is against the law to import it into the Island.
Today Michael Gafoor, head of the Island's Alcohol and Drugs Service, said his team have seen an increasing number of people testing positive for the substance and warned that Islanders were risking their lives by taking the drug.
The drugs expert said Customs officers had secured a 'number of seizures' of MPA, which is often injected to maximise its effects, in recent months.
The Misuse of Drugs Advisory Council, which recommends classifications for drugs, has called for MPA to be made a class B substance.
Mr Gafoor said: 'It has led to 15 deaths in the UK in the last three years. It can cause tachycardia and people can have fatal heart attacks.
'In terms of adverse affects clients have reported palpitations, panic attacks, headaches, nausea, difficulty breathing, vomiting and what is peculiar with this particular drug is that it causes the user difficulty urinating and also sexual dysfunction.'
'The evidence we have is that it is more commonly injected to maximise the affects and it increases the speed of the reaction for the user.'
Mr Gafoor added that it is not a new substance and was first synthesised in 1942, but had recently become more popular with users after previously dropping out of the drugs market.
Mark Cockerham, director of law enforcement at Customs, said they have seized 15 packages containing MPA this year.
'MPA is often sold as one of the main ingredients in a wide range of proprietary products. The most frequently encountered is called Synthacaine which is the most common brand we have seen coming into Jersey,' he said.
'The targeting of postal traffic for substances like these continues to be a high priority for the officers working at the border controls.'
MPA, which can be inhaled, injected or used a suppository, is currently outlawed in countries such as Denmark, Hungary, Slovenia and Belarus but is still legal in the UK.
A World Health Organisation report released last year stated that the drug had similar properties to Crystal-Met, officially known as methamphetamine.
New psychoactive substances (NPS) is the name given to a variety of synthetic drugs that have been designed to mimic mainstream products such as cannabis, cocaine, ecstacy and LSD.
Manufacturers of these substances develop new chemicals to replace those that are banned. They do this to change the chemical structures of the drugs in order to to try to stay ahead of the law.
Here are some facts about NPS:
- NPS do not typically come with a recommended dosage. They are unregulated and untested and can be extremely dangerous
- It is hard to know the effects of NPS, even if a user has taken them before, as the drugs are constantly changing in composition and formula
- Overdose can be easy as NPS packaging often does not carry information about ingredients or dosage amounts
- Many products contain high levels of caffeine
- It can be difficult for doctors and other health workers to treat those who have overdosed on NPS as there is little research about the effects of these synthetic products
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