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Websites selling mephedrone are already offering the substance for half its previous price, thanks to an imminent ban announced by Home Secretary Alan Johnson yesterday.

Sites are offering a gram for £4.50 rather than the usual £10. Prices per kilo have also fallen from £4,000 to nearer £2,000.

Johnson said: “I am determined to act swiftly on the ACMD’s advice and will now seek cross-party support to ban mephedrone and its related compounds as soon as possible. I am also taking immediate action to limit supply by banning the importation of mephedrone; sending a clear warning to suppliers about their responsibilities..."

Quite how the UK Border Agency is going to open thousands of envelopes to see if they contain white powder, then test the powder, is not clear. The insta-ban is possible by removing them from the Open General Import Licence.

Chinese labs, which sell tens of kilos of the stuff to UK dealers, already offer a variety of other chemicals. This range is likely to expand once the cathinone analogue ban is in place.

The ban covers 4-Methylmethcathinone (mephedrone), 4-Methoxymethcathinone (bk-PMMA/ methedrone), 3-Fluoromethcathinone, 2-Methylamino-1-(3,4-methylenedioxyphenyl)propan-1-one (bk-MDMA/methylone) and 2-Methylamino-1-(3,4-methylenedioxyphenyl)butan-1-one (bk-MBDB/butylone). The legislation "will include generic compounds to prevent suppliers switching to new versions of the substance".

The Home Office said the move would not be delayed by the resignation of another member of the ACMD. Dr Polly Taylor resigned her post on Sunday unhappy at the Home Office's treatment of independent advice.

Three new members of the ACMD have been appointed - the committee is a requirement of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

In other news the ACMD released its Pathways to Problems report yesterday. It looks at dangerous use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs by young people and recommends the government establish a body like the ACMD to advise the Home Office on alcohol and tobacco issues.

Last year the Home Office banned BZP, GBL and Spice - a smokeable, synthetic cannabis. ®

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