Home > A preference for mephedrone: drug markets, drugs of choice, and the emerging “legal high” scene.

McElrath, Karen and Van Hout, Marie Claire (2011) A preference for mephedrone: drug markets, drugs of choice, and the emerging “legal high” scene. Journal of Drug Issues, 41, (4), pp. 487-508. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F002204261104100403.

This study focuses on individuals’ preferences for mephedrone, a new psychoactive substance that has emerged in several countries. We examine the reasons for mephedrone preferences, and describe the positive and negative effects of the drug experience, route of administration and consumers’ views about the legality of mephedrone. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with 45 adults who had used mephedrone since January 2010. Respondents resided in one of two jurisdictions that were characterized by different legislative controls over mephedrone. The findings suggest the importance of macro-level drug market factors that shaped people’s preferences for mephedrone. Additionally, respondents’ preferences were guided by pharmacological properties that helped them conceal the effects of mephedrone in public and semi-public spaces. Respondents were not deterred by the (impending) change from legal to illicit drug. The findings have implications for the study of localized drug markets, and in particular, legislative controls over emerging legal highs.

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Article
Drug Type
CNS stimulants, New psychoactive substance
Identification #
Page Range
pp. 487-508
Accession Number
HRB (Not in collection)
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