By Rory Reynolds
SCOTLAND’S headteaching association has called for clarity over the lethal legal high mephedrone.
Ken Cunningham, General Secretary of School Leaders Scotland said that the nature of legal drugs is changing at a “frightening rate” and said more must be done to educate children.
The call comes after headteachers in England urged the UK Government to consider an outright ban on the drug, which was linked to the death of two teenagers in Humberside on Monday.
Louis Wainwright, 18, and Nicholas Smith, 19, died in Scunthorpe after taking the drug on a night out.
That prompted the general secretary of the National Association of Headteachers, Mick Brookes to be treated the same way as cocaine, heroin or ecstasy.
He said: “This drug clearly has the same inherent dangers as any Class A drug and I think serious consideration should be given to banning it.
“The problem with that is that you then criminalise the people who take it, so we need to think very carefully about what we do, but act with some speed.”
Now Mr Cunningham has entered the debate for Scotland’s schools, saying that the drug is a “confusion” to school heads.
Mr Cunningham said: “Mephedrone is part of an ongoing issue that hits the headlines as it has done today.
“There is a lot of misunderstanding among youngsters over legal drugs, but just because something is legal it doesn’t mean it is safe.
“Legal drugs are just a confusion to us, and we would like to see clarity on this issue.”
Mr Cunningham also urged the Scottish government to consider reinvesting in drug education programmes, which he said had “tailed-off” in recent years.
He added: “The drugs education policy in schools is still an imperative and over the last 10 or 12 years a lot of what we have done in drugs education has tailed off.
“The nature of the drugs industry these days changes at a frightening rate, and we would like to see the investment that we had in previous years.”
The white powder, which is sold by websites such as www.plant-food.net, is chemically similar to ecstasy can be bought legally online for a little as £12.95 per gram.
Its side effects are said to include psychosis, palpitations, burning throat, nosebleeds and insomnia.
Alistair Ramsay MBE, a former government drug advisor and now chairman of Drugwise, has called for a complete ban on mephedrone and its derivatives.
Ramsay, who previously coordinated the production of drug education packages for Scottish schools, said: “The dilemma is that mephedrone has a very difficult root to pin down, and it’s not an easy drug to deal with.
“With ecstasy there were many offshoots, and by microwaving it people were able to turn it into different forms like MDMA.
“We need to find the root of the mephedrone, ban that completely, and all of its derivatives.
“There also needs to be a massive investment into the drug education programmes that have fallen by the wayside under the current government.
“Parents across the country will have had their worst fears alerted today and they will want answers.”