26/10/2011 06:34 BST | Updated 25/12/2011 05:12 GMT

Mephedrone Caused 100 Deaths Over Last Two Years, Ministers Told In 'Legal High' Warning

Ministers have been urged to tighten the laws governing 'legal highs', as a study revealed almost 100 deaths were linked to the drug mephedrone over the last two years.

In a report published on Tuesday, the the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) warned that dangerous but legal drugs were being marketed as plant food or bath salts in order to evade the law.

Professor Les Iversen, the council's chairman, said: "These dangerous drugs can pose serious health risks and often contain harmful and illegal substances.

"Some nightclub venues show maybe a third or even more have tried these compounds. These are not safe party drugs, they contain potential short term and long term harmful effects."

He added: "We want the government to do all it can to combat the sale, supply and harms of so-called 'legal highs'."

The report revealed that mephedrone, also known as 'meow meow', has been linked to over 127 deaths over the past two years. It was banned in 2010 by the Labour government.

Out of those 88 cases were proven to have mephedrone in the body and in 42 cases the drug was confirmed to have been a contributor.

The report warned that the advent of the substances had changed the face of the drug scene "remarkably and with rapidity" and has also created a new type of drug dealer.

"Many people importing these new substances appear to have had no previous involvement in the illicit drug trade and are just in it to make a 'quick buck'," the report said.

"They have included students who have set up websites to supply nationally and who also supply the local student population."

Professor Iversen said: "This is a new phenomenon and a whole new group of people who never took illegal drugs before are more prone to taking these legal highs.