Leeds 'legal high' website back in business

A WEBSITE previously selling the now-banned drug mephedrone is back in business – peddling a new range of legal "research chemicals".

Police have issued a warning about the dangers after the new site was uncovered by theYEP.

In December it was revealed that a Leeds-based trader was selling mephedrone, as so-called "plant fertiliser", online. That site closed earlier this month, just before mephedrone became illegal after being linked to 25 deaths.

But a link directs users to a new site which says a web shop is set to launch for "research organisations, organic chemistry students, and home chemistry hobbyists!".

It claimed the first substance available will be naphthylpyrovalerone, known as NRG-1.

Government drugs advisors have already launched an investigation into NRG-1, along with other legal highs.

Mephedrone and similar substances were also commonly sold as "research chemicals" before the ban, the advisers said.

According to the new site, it will also sell "high quality and purity research chemicals including MDAI, MDMAI, MDAT, and the very exciting 5-IAI (5-Iodo-2-aminoindane)."

The effects of these have been discussed on internet drugs forums.

The site warns all products are for research purposes only and not for human consumption. It also plans to sell a range of laboratory equipment.

Police warned that legal highs were not necessarily safe.

Bryan Dent, West Yorkshire Police's drugs co-ordinator, said: "Many of these type of substances are synthetic compounds, and have no real research behind them.

"What I can predict with almost certainty is that if you take so called legal highs, you do not know what you are consuming and if you consume the substance with alcohol the effects will be compounded and potentially serious."

Since mephedrone was made illegal on April 16, West Yorkshire Police officers have arrested one person on suspicion of supplying the drug and three for possessing it.

Forensic tests are underway to establish whether the substances found were mephedrone.

Mephedrone, also known as MCAT or Meow Meow, was made a Class B drug after a series of deaths linked to the drug, including that of 24-year-old Lois Walters of Malton in North Yorkshire.

However, a Leeds drugs policy expert said the cycle of banning drugs could continue.

Dr Mark Monaghan, lecturer in social policy and crime at the University of Leeds, said: "As soon as one is banned it is replaced by something else. It only takes a minute tweak in the chemical make-up of a drug to mean it is not included in the Misuse of Drugs Act."

An email from the Leeds-based firm selling mephedrone last December claimed: "We do everything we can to ensure that people don't misuse our products which are for plant fertilization purposes only."

However, the report by the Government's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs said the substance was not an efficient plant fertiliser and Trades Description laws could be used to prosecute sellers.