National media coverage of legal high methoxetamine, or Mexxy, has hit an all-time high after it was banned recently on a temporary basis.
The ban follows the death of Hugo Wenn, 17, and Daniel Lloyd, 25, who drowned in a Canterbury Pond in January after taking the drug which is marketed as a "safe alternative to ketamine". Two weeks later the ketamine substitute was blamed for the deaths of a man aged 59 and a woman of 32 in Leicestershire.
The substance was referred to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs earlier in March and can be ingested by oral consumption or snorted.
Here are some facts surrounding the previously little-know legal high.
Correlation with Ketamine
Mexxy bears extremely similar qualities, both chemically and in how it feels after consumption, with ketamine, a class C drug which is used as a horse tranquiliser. It brings on both hallucinatory effects and out of body effects.
Professor Les Iversen, chairman of the ACMD, told MixMag.net: "The evidence shows that the use of methoxetamine can cause harm to users.
"Many of the health effects of methoxetamine are similar to those of ketamine, which is already controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act."
Causes Symptoms of Depression
Mexxy can bring on a symptom of depression known as 'depersonalisation' which makes the sufferer feel as if they are standing slightly behind themselves and they are not a part of their own reality.
People have often described this feeling as like watching your life unfold from behind a screen for anywhere up to a few minutes to a few hours at a time.
The Marketing Strategy
Mexxy is sold as a "safe alternative to ketamine" whereas other legal highs are usually marketed as incense, bath salts or gardening chemicals.
2009 saw the rise of MDMA 'wannabe', Meow Meow, which was sold as a plant food under the strict instructions: Not for human consumption.
Messing With Your Signals
A regular Mexxy user told MixMag.net that it was the "ultimate drug", she claimed it's perfect for festivals because it gives you "hours and hours of extra energy".
This is essentially because, like ketamine, Mexxy plays with your NMDA receptors which allows the transfer of electrical signals between the brain and the spine. It prevents glutamate from activating the transmission, as it normally does, causing hallucinations.
Sally Bercow, the wife of the speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, recently courted controversy when she declared that the drug intrigued her.
She tweeted: "Am I the only one now slightly tempted to try mexxy before it becomes illegal?"
Bercow recovered by promptly tweeting: "Obviously, I won't." shortly afterwards.