'Raging epidemic' of MCat abuse among county's young
MEPHEDRONE use among youngsters in Gloucestershire is at "epidemic" proportions.
Warnings have been sounded about the continuing use of the drug, also known as MCat and meow meow, particularly among teenagers and children throughout the county.
Judge Jamie Tabor QC, who sits at Gloucester Crown Court, said use of the substance is reaching unprecedented levels.
Sentencing two offenders this week, who committed a string of crimes while high on mephedrone, he said: "One word has been repeated time and again during this case and that is mephedrone. There's an epidemic raging through the streets of Gloucestershire where young people are taking mephedrone in the entirely mistaken belief it's not a dangerous drug.
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"Your predicament demonstrates that's not the case. You both underwent character changes for the worse as a result of you taking mephedrone. This is a drug that causes uncontrollable personality change."
One of the offenders, Stuart Lee, 19, attempted to make a nail bomb amid a string of other crimes, while his friend Dexter Cunnington, 27, left a 16-year-old boy with two fractures to his skull after a vicious assault to steal his stash of the drug.
The court heard both were under the influence of mephedrone, as well as other drugs and alcohol, during many of their 15 offences. They often mixed with 14-year-old girls who were also taking the drug.
Mephedrone is believed to be available on the county's streets for between £8 and £15 a gram.
Rob England, operations manager for Gloucestershire's Youth Support Team said: "Over the past two to three years we have seen an increase in the incidence of mephedrone use in young people. This is both a regional and a national issue.
"Substance misuse among young people is largely related to alcohol and cannabis use. However, the overall rates of substance misuse by young people in the county is decreasing in line with national trends."
A spokesman for Gloucestershire police said they are playing an "important role" in the fight against the substance.