Pledge to ban 'liquid ecstasy'

A mother who lost her 21-year-old daughter to the legal party drug GBL has said that the Home Secretary Alan Johnson told her he is "committed" to banning the substance.

The increasingly popular drug, known as "liquid ecstasy", is outlawed for personal use in some countries but is available online, in British health food stores and high street "head shops" for as little as 50p per dose.

Maryon Stewart's daughter Hester, a medical student from Brighton, died in April. Police are investigating if she unknowingly took GBL during an evening out with friends. Mrs Stewart has called for an inquiry into why the drug had not been banned, despite the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs recommending last August that it be classified as a Class C substance.

After meeting with Mr Johnson, Mrs Stewart said: "He has committed to ban GBL for personal use."

A Home Office spokesman said: "The Home Secretary said he would look at ways of speeding up the process."

The effect of GBL, which is one of the main ingredients in paint stripper and nail varnish remover, is very similar to the notorious "date rape" drug GHB, which was banned in 2003 and currently holds a Class C status.

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