M-Cat now goes into non-bailable offence list
Mumbai: Mephedrone, a cheap addictive drug known as M-Cat, meow meow and drone in local parlance and freely available in the market devoid of any legal regulation, has now come under the scanner of the Centre. “The drug has been included as a ‘psychotropic substance’ under the National Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985,” said a notification from SN Dash, under secretary (revenue), GoI. This, in effect, means that abuse and possessing of the drug will be a non-bailable offence, say experts.
The issue has been stirring the hornet’s nest since last year after Dr Yusuf Merchant, a psychiatrist in the city, filed a PIL against centre, state and Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), appealing to bring the drug under NDPS Act.
Will this deter abusers?
In spite of rising cases of Mephedrone abuse among youth in cities like Mumbai, the police were unable to act in the absence of stringent rules. The Anti-Narcotics Cell and police had been booking M-Cat abusers under IPC section 328 (arrest for causing hurt by means of poison with intent to committing an offence), which is a bailable offence.
What about peddlers?
The police had apprehended several mephedrone peddlers in Andheri, Malad, Mahim, Worli, Juhu and Pydhonie, with the drug haul ranging between 10 and 100 grams. Kumar Sanjay Jha, zonal director, NCB says henceforth “Mephedrone offenders will be booked under four different sections of NDPS Act.”
What is NCB saying?
The NCB had drafted a report with the Centre last year about rise in Mephedrone abuse and details of laws governing it in other countries. “The stringent NDPS Act will help us crack down on several labs and other big players involved in its manufacture and trafficking who are already under our radar,” said an NCB official.
How many are addicted?
Dr Merchant, also the president of Drug Abuse Information, Rehabilitation and Research Centre, says over two lakh children, in the age group of 13 to 15, are estimated to be addicted to this substance in India. “There are no rehabilitation centres to cater to children below 14 who are addicted to narcotics,” he says.
What about affected?
The Centre should take up the rehabilitation of children affected by substance abuse on a war footing, says Dr Merchant.
How harmful is M-Cat?
Many of the initial medical case reports on mephedrone suggest that the drug can cause problems with one’s breathing and the circulatory system, particularly when used along with alcohol.
What are other risks?
Mephedrone can cause various unintended side effects including: dilated pupils, poor concentration, teeth grinding, problems focusing visually, poor short-term memory, hallucinations, delusions and erratic behaviour.
30k Mumbaikars may be M-Cat users
Experts explain why Mephedrone has overtaken weed, cocaine
Mephedrone, which goes by the street name M-Cat or meow meow, has finally been brought under the purview of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.
Marketed online as bath salt, plant feed
M-Cat has been an easy drug to procure, say experts. It is cheaper than cocaine and other high-end party drugs and is an easily available chemical formulation, or an analog, belonging to the amphetamine and cathinone family. It is manufactured in India and China, and is marketed as plant feed or bath salts on the Internet, said Dr Yusuf Merchant, a city-based psychiatrist who had filed a PIL to push authorities to crack down on the drug.
More female users than male
While for every hundred males, one female would abuse heroin and for every 20 males, one female would abuse cocaine, more females are getting high on M-Cat than ever. “For every three males I see that use M-Cat, one female uses the drug. At this rate, risk of transmitting diseases like HIV/AIDS is rampant,” warned Dr Merchant.
Many of the addicts are kids
The addicts, who are as young as 14, order the products online. They order those varieties under which it is mentioned that the product is not fit for human consumption, thus posing a danger to their health. Estimates suggest that 30,000 persons including children may be addicted to M-Cat in Mumbai.
Aryan Kumar (name changed), a 14-year-old from an affluent Gujarati family in South Mumbai, was rushed by his parents to the doctor after his nose was continuously bleeding. “This is a typical side effect of consuming M-Cat. He had been on the drug for the past two months, but his family hadn’t a clue,” said Dr Merchant.
Aryan had consumed up to 75 grams of M-Cat powder in three days flat along with a friend, and later stayed awake for up to a week, hallucinating and aggressive. “He would hit an extreme low as the cycles of highs and lows occur within a short time, and to avoid it, he would sniff the drug yet again,” said Dr Merchant. It is dangerous to drive under the influence of M-Cat.
Already banned in 53 countries
Up to 53 countries have banned M-Cat since it started making waves in the party circuit. Israel was the first to ban it in 2008, followed by the UK in 2010 and the US in 2011. “M-Cat and crystal meth have taken over weed and cocaine. The usage has reached epidemic proportions in Mumbai,” said Dr Harish Shetty, city-based senior psychiatrist. “20% of my patients are on M-Cat alone. Their age ranges between 14 and 40 years,” Dr Shetty said.
Minor gang-raped in Mumbra was under influence of M-Cat
Ongoing investigations into the gang rape of a 13-year-old girl in Mumbra earlier this month have revealed that the victim was under the influence of mephedrone when she was sexually abused.
The case has been registered with the Mumbra police. A senior inspector from the crime branch said, “The girl said that she was given MD before she was gang raped.” The crime branch has arrested a minor and 5 others in this regard.
The victim went missing from home on February 5 after which the Mumbra police registered a kidnapping case on February 9. Five days later, the girl contacted her relatives and narrated her ordeal. Medical examination proved that the minor was sexually assaulted. The accused sedated her with the drug and took her to different lodges at Diaghar, Khopoli and other places. One of the culprits is also a chain snatcher.
ACP Nagesh Lohar said, “Five people have been arrested and investigations are still going on.” The farm house of a political leader is also in question as the victim was allegedly gang-raped there. However, officials are tight-lipped about the involvement of a political leader.