China 'set to produce more legal highs'

Chinese chemical factories are planning to outsmart the British authorities by providing more "legal highs" if the Government bans mephedrone, it is reported today.

A Sky News investigation uncovered the chain of supply from the factories to British dealers.

The channel said it had discovered an entire new generation of chemical highs including substances such as methylone, butylone and MDPV. All of them mimic the effects of other, better known, drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy.

Posing as a potential customer, Sky News correspondent Holly Williams contacted a Shanghai-based company and was told by a worker that the company makes both mephedrone and methylone "in batches - 100 kilograms, 200 kilograms, 50 kilograms, whatever the customer wants".

The worker went on to reveal that the company already has five British customers, "two of them big ones".

She said: "One of them orders 50 to 100 kilograms a week. The other one orders 50 kilograms of mephedrone a month, and 40 kilograms of methylone."

Asked whether a British ban on mephedrone would cause problems for their business, the worker said the company was already well prepared.

"We're working on five or six new legal products," she said. "Most of them come from our British customers. They told us how to make the new ones."

Toxicologist Dr John Ramsey told Sky: "We're seeing 10 or 11 new compounds every year coming out now.

"The Chinese chemical industry seems to provide anything at a price. So if somebody here orders something they'll either synthesise it or have it in stock and they'll send it regardless of what it's to be used for."

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs is considering a ban on mephedrone, also known as M-Cat or Miaow Miaow, after it was linked to the deaths of a number of young people.

Ministers are expected to receive its report today.

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