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Only 21 people charged in three years over 'meow meow' party drug
Just 21 people have been charged for possessing a popular party drug since it was banned more than three years ago.
Figures obtained by The Argus reveal Sussex Police has charged just 18 people with possession of legal high meow meow, and three with possession with intent to supply, since it was outlawed in April 2010.
Drug experts say meow meow users are a low priority for police and it still remains a popular party drug among the young.
They add that the true number of users is still unknown because so few seek out treatment while a worrying trend of injecting the drug, also known as mephedrone, is putting a growing number at risk of blood-borne diseases.
The Government banned the drug in April 2010 following a high- profile campaign in response to the deaths of several users.
In February 2010 John Smith, of The Drive, Hove, became the first person in the country to die from the drug after injecting himself with it.
Last year, police, local authorities and health groups in Worthing launched a weekend of action in response to a significant increase in the number of youngsters reportedly using the drug.
Mike Byrne, operations manager with Brighton-based health charity CRI, said: “Mephedrone is still with us.
“I do believe the ban worked in some respects because there is an assumption that because they are legal they don’t cause any harm.
“We are educating people about the long term negative effects of using mephedrone and other so- called party drugs/legal highs.”
Mr Byrne added mephedrone users had a different profile to crack cocaine and heroin users, making them less likely to come to the attention of the police because they had less of a tendency to carry out inquisitive crimes to fund their drug use.
He said: “For the police, mephedrone users are probably not a high priority. They are probably more likely to go after the big crack dealers in the city and I think the public would agree with that priority.”
Detective Inspector Till Sanderson said: “These figures are very low, mephedrone is not a major drug problem for us in Sussex.
“Mephedrone is not ordinarily linked with wider criminality – it is generally taken by younger people and is renowned as being a party drug.
“The amount of people going through the legal system for possession or possession with intent to supply Mephedrone is very low in Sussex, especially in comparison with cocaine and heroin.
“We take drug use and possession very seriously and will look to prosecute anyone who brings drugs onto our streets.”
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