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Calls for party drug ban

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009 Calls for party drug ban

The mother of a promising medical student who died after taking the party drug GBL is to meet the home secretary Alan Johnson today in a bid to have the legal high banned.

Maryon Stewart, of Sussex, wants GBL classified as a Class C drug. It is an odourless, colourless liquid that can be fatal if consumed with alcohol. It is currently not illegal in Britain despite the dangers of taking it.

Police are still investigating whether her daughter Hester, 21, unknowingly took the substance while out with friends in April.

Toxicology tests showed the student’s death was due to GBL in conjunction with alcohol intake. An inquest into the death of Miss Stewart is due to take place next month.

Speaking before the scheduled meeting with the home secretary, Mrs Stewart said: “We called for this meeting because we want to know why GBL isn’t classified as a drug at the moment.

“My daughter died as a result of consuming it combined with alcohol.

“It is a colourless liquid which turns into GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyric acid) in the stomach. A small amount of GBL mixed with alcohol can be lethal.

“GBL could be classified within 90 minutes by the Statutory Instruments Committee. I hope banning GBL for personal use will be a swift process.”

A spokesman for the Home Office said: “The government is committed to cracking down on legal highs in response to emerging threats to public health.

“We are currently consulting on controlling a range of substances, including GBL and BZP, which can harm health.

“We are determined to tackle drug use in all its forms through tough enforcement, education and, where required, treatment; it is absolutely right that we continue to adapt our drug policy to the changing environment of substance misuse.

“Earlier this year we asked the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs to look into harms caused by legal highs. Their advice will be very useful in informing future government policy on controlling these substances.”

GBL is already banned for personal use in a number of countries including Sweden and the US. However, it is widely available on the Internet and over the counter in some health food stores within the UK.

The chemical is commonly used in the plastics industry. Its intended use is as a paint stripper and rust remover.

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