Easy availability and lower price compared to other substances and their “popularity” as party drug has led to an increase in the number of Methamphetamine and Mephedrone users, especially in the age group of 15-30 years.
Availability of ingredients had made small-scale manufacturing easier in large cities, said investigators.
The arrest of two engineering students from Pune by the Mumbai police in Bandra last week for possession of Mephedrone, also called Meow Meow, revealed that the two went to Mumbai to procure the drug for their own consumption and also to sell it to their friends in Pune.
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“Globally, it has been observed that on the one hand as there is a decrease in the use of drugs like heroin, consumption of artificial substances like Methamphetamine and Mephedrone is on the rise. The problem of Mephedrone is serious and the number of addicts is increasing at a rapid pace in cities like Mumbai, Pune and Goa. It was after the Maharashtra government wrote to the Centre to bring the drug under the purview of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, that the central government acted on it. Cocaine costs around Rs 3,000 per gram, while Mephedrone costs 10 times less,” said an officer who has worked with the anti-narcotics cell of the Pune city police.
Mukta Puntambekar of the Muktangan De-addiction and Rehabilitation Centre said, “There is a rise in the number of cases of Methamphetamine abuse. Some have also confessed to have used Mephedrone. Most of them are below 30 years and some are even as young as 15 years. These people come from all social, economic and educational backgrounds. Most of them were first introduced to Methamphetamine or Mephedrone as a party drug by their friends and from that point they fell prey to it. Initial occasional consumption which leads to addiction is a pattern seen in almost all of them. Most of these people have told us that they bought the drug from peddlers. Meth and Mephedrone is consumed in various ways—sniffing, vapour smoking and injecting.”
Puntambekar added, “People addicted to these substances also include women and it has also been noticed that its use is on the rise among members of the gay community, especially at their parties.
In a major seizure of Mephedrone this week, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and the Customs Department seized over 400 kilograms of the drug from a manufacturing unit in Sangli and also from a vehicle on Pune-Mumbai Expressway. DRI had also seized in the past large consignments of another drugs and anesthetic named Ketamine, which doubles up as a party drug in cities.
PSI Sushant Patil of Bandra police station, who is investigating the case of arrest of two engineering students from Pune and their peddler, said, “Our probe has shown that the two bought over 200 grams of Mephedrone for their own consumption and also to sell it to their friends. The peddler has told us that he bought it from a dealer in Mumbai. Further probe will bring to light the network of these peddlers.”