Project 6

Ephedrine

Ephedrine

Ephedrine is a stimulant that speeds up the heart and the nervous system and is often found in herbal and diet pills. Its common side-effects include a racing heart, dry mouth and muscle spasms. Find out more...

What is it?

Ephedrine is a stimulant that speeds up the heart and nervous system.

It comes from a shrubby plant known as Ephedra sinensis. The shrub is well known to Chinese herbalists who call it 'Ma Huang'.

Pills and potions containing Ephedra or Ma Huang are sold as herbal E, as dietary aids and as remedies to increase energy and enhance fitness training.

Synthetic ephedrine is used in several cold medicines that you can buy at any chemist.

Crystal meth can be made from ephedrine.

How does it make you feel?

Ephedrine makes you alert and focused. It might send shivers up and down your spine, make your skin sensitive and give you a really confident, happy feeling.

Too much ephedrine can make you anxious. You may get a racing heart, dry mouth and muscle spasms.

What are the health effects?

Small amounts of ephedrine are used in cold remedies because it relaxes the airways and makes breathing easier.

Ephedrine raises heart rate and blood pressure. Long-term use can lead to heart attack and stroke in healthy people. It is very risky for anyone who has heart problems.

The law

Are ATS illegal?

Since there are lots of different types of ATS, there are differences in how they are dealt with by the law. However, the vast majority of ATS are illegal to have, give away or sell:

For example, crystal meth and 4-methylamphetamine are Class A drugs, mephedrone and the powder form of speed are Class B drugs, but when Class B drugs have been prepared for injection they become Class A drugs.

MPA is currently controlled under to a Temporary Class Drug Order (TCDO) and its status for further control is under review

The Psychoactive Substances Act, which is expected to come into force in Spring 2016, will make it an offence to produce, supply or import/export any psychoactive substance. So any ATS that isn’t currently illegal will come under this Act and the production, supply and importation of them (such as ordering from abroad online) will become illegal. Police will also have powers to seize when they find someone in possession of the substances.

The law for class A, B and C drugs is

  • Possession of a Class A drug can get you up to 7 years in jail and an unlimited fine.
  • Possession of a Class B drug can get you up to 5 years in jail and an unlimited fine.
  • Possession of a Class C drug can get you up to 2 years in jail and an unlimited fine.
  • Supplying someone else with a Class A drug, including your friends, can get you up to life in prison and an unlimited fine.
  • Supplying someone else with a Class B drug, including your friends, can get you up to 14 years in jail and an unlimited fine.
  • Supplying someone else with a Class C drug, including your friends, can get you up to 14 years in jail and an unlimited fine.
  • Under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016, producing or supplying a psychoactive substance for human consumption can get you up to 7 years in prison.

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