Ever heard of “mexxy”? No? You’re not alone. Many were mystified this morning as the Home Office announced that methoxetamine, or mexxy, would be the first so-called legal high to be banned under new government powers.
The drug, which is advertised as a safe alternative to ketamine, will be made illegal for up to 12 months while drugs advisers decide whether it should be permanently illegalised. In the meantime, anyone caught making, supplying, or importing the drug will face up to 14 years in prison.
It is thought that four people may have taken the drug before they died, although there are no confirmed deaths linked to the drugs.
Dangerous as the drug might be, the blanket ban for a drug many have never heard of seems excessive. As the former head of the official advisory board, Professor David Nutt, said after he was sacked in 2009:
If there is one thing that politicians can and should do to limit the damage caused by illegal drugs, it is to take careful note of the evidence and develop a rational drug policy. Some politicians find it easier to ignore the evidence, and pander to public prejudice instead.
Nowhere was the hysterical reaction to new drugs better summed up than in Brass Eye, Chris Morris’s classic satirical show. Here’s a clip focusing on “a new legal drug from Czechoslovakia called ‘cake’”.