Published by BBC NEWS - 11th May 2023
  • Published
Man holding a bag with white powder in itImage source, Getty Images

A relatively new and dangerous street drug called monkey dust, which is already banned in the US, could soon face tougher penalties in the UK.

The government is asking officials about the drug that can cause violence and paranoia – some users have jumped off buildings or tried to eat glass.

The city of Stoke-on-Trent has seen a big rise in users and related crimes, including arson.

Reclassifying it from Class B to A would increase jail terms for dealers.

Stoke-on-Trent South MP Jack Brereton says he is pleased the government is taking action.

He said: “It’s a hallucinogenic drug, and many people’s lives have been completely destroyed as a result of taking this drug.

“There is no treatment for those who become addicted – and it is very addictive. For those who succumb to it, it’s very profound.”

He said users could become a danger to themselves as well as others.

The effects can vary considerably from user to user.

Police officers have described tackling those under the influence as like trying to wrestle with the Incredible Hulk.

“It’s so cheaply available, it’s cheaper than the price of alcohol and people are able to just pick it up readily. We need to see reclassification and put the consequences up for those who are pushing this drug.”

According to Mr Brereton, a hit can cost as little as £2 to buy on the street.

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What is monkey dust?

Monkey dust is the street name for methylenedioxy-α-pyrrolidinohexiophenone or MDPHP, which is a synthetic cathinone.

It is a white or yellowish powder that is sold by dealers as an alternative to drugs like speed, ecstasy or cocaine.

Users snort it or wrap it in paper and swallow it, but it can be smoked.

While it can create euphoria, it can make users feel anxious and paranoid.

Some users may experience fits and heart damage.

Policing Minister Chris Philp said: “These synthetic drugs ruin lives, families and neighbourhoods. Made in labs and pumped into our communities, our drug laws must keep pace with their evolution.”

By making monkey dust a Class A substance, criminals caught supplying it would face a life sentence.

Possession would carry a penalty of up to seven years in prison.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs will give the government the findings of its review in due course.




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