The U.K. government plans to label the currently legal club drug mephedrone a controlled substance on par with marijuana and amphetamines, CBC News reported March 29.
A synthetic form of cathinone — the active ingredient in the traditional North African stimulant khat — mephedrone has recently grown in popularity in the U.K., where it is nicknamed M-Cat or Meow Meow. A dose costs about $4.50 and the drug can be purchased online.
The U.K. Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs recommended listing mephedrone as a Class B controlled substance, meaning possession could be punished by up to five years in prison and trafficking in mephedrone could trigged prison terms of up to 14 years.
“As a result of the council’s advice, I’m introducing legislation to ban not just mephedrone and other cathinones but also to enshrine in law a generic definition … so that we can be in the forefront of dealing with this whole family of drugs,” said U.K. Home Secretary Alan Johnson.
Mephedrone is currently legal for sale in most U.S. states and under federal law.