Mephedrone ‘Plant Food’ – Not For Human Consumption

Photo of a cat with a sign reading "I peed on the hairdryer and now it blows hot cat-piss scented air"

Mephedrone is like MDMA’s annoying younger cousin. They exude restless energy and you get sick of interrupting their endless chatter with, “Oi! My eyes are up here!”. While they haven’t quite mastered personal hygiene, they’re probably on tinder and “here for a good time not a long time”.

Not to be confused with methylone or methadone, mephedrone is short for 4-methylmethcathinone. It’s sometimes called 4-MMC, m-cat, plant food, or meow meow. We were gonna fill this post with lame cat puns but according to Vice only journalists actually called it meow meow. Makes sense – who wants to be reminded that it can make them smell like cat piss?

Plant food is a much more interesting nickname because it used to be sold as this legally online in the UK! The packets said “not for human consumption” but testimonials on the websites suggested otherwise…

“All of the plan[sic] food you have sold to me have got my daisies dancing and my lilies laughing”

“The flowers are sky high” Quotes source: The Guardian

Back of package for "plant food" with not for human consumption disclaimer
Image source: Raquel Baranow (Flickr)

Mephedrone is like a cousin of MDMA because their chemical structures are pretty similar. Both chemicals are stimulants and empathogens – they make you feel really happy, energetic, and friendly. You might find yourself dancing for hours to music you don’t like and sharing life stories with your best friend (aka person you met 2 mins ago).

We’ve found mephedrone in Aotearoa fairly regularly since we started testing. It has been found in a variety of forms, including white powder, crystals, and in pressed pills. It has a similar active dose and duration to MDMA. Some people say it feels like cocaine because the high is a bit more speedy than empathetic.

Many people enjoy mephedrone, but it still carries the same risks as other stimulants in the cathinone family. In high doses it can cause overheating, anxiety, overstimulation, hallucinations, seizures, and heart damage. It also has a high redose compulsion (you may want to take more and more, which is very risky). There are several deaths a year overseas due to mephedrone.

We don’t know a lot about the long term effects of synthetic cathinones, so it’s safest not to take it. But if you do…

Harm reduction tips for mephedrone

We strongly recommend:

  1. If you have a family history of cardiovascular disease or you’re not sure, it’s a good idea to have a check up before taking stimulants.
    The energising effect of mephedrone means your heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature increase.
  2. If you’re struggling with mental health it’s a good idea to have a chat with your doctor or therapist before taking any kind of psychoactive drug.
    Messing around with your brain chemistry is risky, especially if you’re taking medication for your mental health. Mephedrone acts like serotonin and is very dangerous to take if your medication affects your serotonin levels e.g. antidepressants.
  3. It’s safest not to take different drugs at the same time because the effects can be unpredictable and dangerous.
    This includes alcohol. Stimulants mask the effects of alcohol – making it easier to drink too much and leaving you very very sick when the mephedrone wears off.
  4. If you’re at all concerned, seek medical advice.
    If you experience blue lips, numbness in the extremities, racing heart, extremely high temperature, seizures, or extreme anxiety/paranoia, please seek medical advice. Emergency medical staff are there to help and they won’t rat you out.
  5. Test your drugs with KnowYourStuffNZ (it’s free and confidential!)
    The reagent tests you can get from Cosmic can’t tell you if there’s another substance mixed in with your MDMA. They can only tell you if your MDMA has been completely substituted for something else. If you’re too impatient to wait for a testing day, start with a low dose and wait for at least an hour to see how you feel.
If you use reagent tests, here is a list of the reactions you can expect if mephedrone is present:

Mephedrone (4-MMC)

As you can see, it will look nothing like MDMA in a reagent test. However it does look similar to many other cathinones, so this is not a guarantee that what you have is mephedrone.

We recommend:

  1. Carry only what you intend to take.
    The effects of mephedrone only last for 2-3 hours, which may tempt you to keep taking more if you’re out for an evening. Your jaw won’t thank you for this in the morning. Also consider whether you want to be asleep before morning. Redosing stimulants can keep you awake way longer than you want to be!
  2. Take mephedrone with people you trust and let them know what you’ve taken.
    Like a lot of synthetic cathinones, mephedrone can increase your libido and decrease your inhibitions. This can lead to saying yes to something (or someone) while you’re high that you might not consent to while you’re sober. There’s a big difference between the walk of shame and the stride of pride.
  3. If you think things might get naked, have a good conversation about consent and boundaries while you’re sober.
    Informed, enthusiastic consent is great. Checking in with your person or people before, during, and after is great. Using condoms or dental dams is great.Things that aren’t this aren’t great.
    Remember, if it’s not a fuck yes when you’re sober, it’s a fuck no when you’re high.
  4. Take a break and stay hydrated.
    If you’re on something that gets your heart going, while doing something that gets your heart going, you’re gonna be overheated, sweaty, and dehydrated. Make your good time last a long time, have a breather and drink some water. The ideal amount is about a glass of water every hour.

Also, mephedrone tends to make you smell like cat piss, just a little reminder.

Photo of a cat with a sign reading "I peed on the hairdryer and now it blows hot cat-piss scented air"
Yeah sorry, we spared you the puns but couldn’t resist an old meme format. Image source: My Crazy Email

A wee rant about synthetic cathinones

Mephedrone is a synthetic cathinone which some people call bath salts. You might have heard of someone having a bad time on the gear and blaming it on ‘bath salts’. Some people use ‘bath salts’ as a catch-all term for a bunch of different cathinones.

This isn’t helpful because each cathinone has its own group of effects and intensities. 0.1mg of one ‘bath salt’ might not have an effect on you at all, where 0.1mg of another ‘bath salt’ will ruin your weekend completely. It’s important to not use the same term to describe lots of unique chemicals. Some are more dangerous than others and have different active doses.

Read more from KnowYourStuffNZ about synthetic cathinones

Prohibition is dumb. Test your “MDMA”.

Mephedrone was made illegal before research was done on its effects. This was silly for a few reasons:

  1. People kept taking it. We could keep them safer if we had more reliable information than anecdotes (stories from people that have taken it).
  2. The regulation and profits of production were handed over to organised crime groups.
  3. Mephedrone was originally marketed as a “legal high” to get around MDMA and cocaine laws. Banning it led to an explosion of new psychoactive chemicals which people knew even less about and got banned even faster… circling back to the first two problems.

Meet Dr Zee, ‘the godfather of legal highs’, in this article from The Guardian

Read more about the silly prohibition cat-and-mouse game in this Vice article

Published by Hannah Gordon

Hannah studied biochemistry and likes writing about science more than being stuck in a lab. When she's not lost in research, she's probably lost in a rave.

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