A Hong Kong website is advertising a plant fertiliser that is abused as a party drug in Europe despite the death of a British teenager in England this month.
The dead youth, Ben Walters, 18, had ingested methedrone (4-methoxymethcathinone), nicknamed 'meow meow' or 'bubble', during a house party in Hertfordshire, England, on January 19. It was the first time he had used it, according to reports. His body was found lying beside a 28-year-old woman, in hospital in critical condition.
Methedrone is legal when used as a plant food. It's an amphetamine-like chemical related to cathinones - naturally occurring stimulants found in plants like the khat plant, chewed by many in tropical East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.
Methedrone, because it is still legal in many countries, has become a popular party drug, creating similar states of euphoria as ecstasy, and has been blamed for causing delusions. It also can cause severe hyperthermia, or overheating, hypertension, and an irregular heartbeat.
The Hong Kong company, EOS Global Chem, claims on Alibaba.com that it can ship the chemical, produced in mainland China, overseas.
EOS says it is a Hong Kong company, but the name cannot be found in the government's company registry. The mobile number listed for a contact person is also unregistered.
Many British and Swedish internet users have left requests for the chemical on Alibaba's 'request for suppliers' site. 'Purest 4-mmc ... mcat ... methedrone ... crystal or fine powder ... ' was one buyer's request.
Little is known about abuse of the chemical in Hong Kong. Carol Ng Suet-kam, officer-in-charge at Evergreen Lutheran Centre, which offers substance abuse counselling, said methedrone was not a common party drug in the city but authorities would have a big headache trying to ban it. 'Residents have easy access to it,' Ng said. 'It's hard to introduce a law against the use of plant food.'
William Chui Chun-ming, vice-president of the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Hong Kong, said methedrone was not sold as a drug in the city. It is traded as a chemical on the mainland.