Exclusive: MXE, or mexxy, users discuss the ban on ‘legal ketamine’ and its impact on drug users

By Mihaela Ivantcheva

In an exclusive interview, MM chat to two ‘legal ketamine’ users. Both oppose current government drug policies and call for better education and more transparency following the temporary ban of methoxetamine or MXE.

Under the veil of anonymity, two MXE users spoke out about their experience with the ‘legal high’ methoxetamine and how the ban is affecting them.

For background on the MXE ban, read MM’s interviews with Manchester drug experts here.

Until the government temporary ban that came into force on April 4, MXE was the legal substitute of ketamine – what some claim to be less harmful but much stronger and long lasting. The designer drug became popular due to a ketamine shortage following decreasing imports from India.

“I think the government did a typical knee-jerk reaction to drugs and shut them down, drove them underground where it’s impossible to control”, said M.

M, 39, married, with four children and own business, started using MXE about six months ago as it became popular in the Research Chemical arena. Once the government temporary ban was imposed, he stopped using it.

H, 21, student with a regular job, loves psychedelics and believes that they have unique properties and should be explored. H first tried MXE at Stonehenge summer solstice last year. Prior to MXE arriving to the scene, H was a regular ketamine user and has tried a number of other substances over the years.

M said: “The ban was inevitable, because of the popularity of the drug; the small dosing was always going to be a disaster to silly kids thinking it is like cocaine.”

According to M, MXE was a niche drug until it started appearing in the papers. He himself first bought mephedrone after reading an article about it.

“From my experience with mephedrone the quality will suffer because of the whole legality of it,” M said.

H also expressed doubts about the effectiveness of the ban: “The government bans affect me by putting me at more risk for what I do without changing what I do at all. In terms of other people I see, it means that they have turned to using ketamine again, which when you see it being done by large groups of people, is far more addictive and socially damaging. In squats and the like it has become almost a new kind of smack due to the heroin drought.”

H added that the ban has rapidly increased prices of MXE within the UK, as now he gets MXE for £9 a gram rather than £7.

“I also think that it acts against the majority of users who don’t cause problems, don’t take it stupidly at huge risks to their health because of the actions of a small few who abuse it and get negative light in the media. These are the same people who are often binge drinking and causing problems. But alcohol isn’t outright ban,” H said.

In a positive light, however, H welcomes the fact that government medical officers will explore the drug’s health impact, and thinks that the ban protects those who know little about it.

On commenting about MXE quality prior to the ban, M said: “Quality was always good, there was talk of different batches etc but I personally could never tell. I used two different vendors during this time and switched to one who had better customer service, as bizarre as that sounds, I don’t want to be given the run around by some kid in his bedroom who bought a kilo and lost track of everyone because he was dipping in the bag!”

H said: “MXE is generally very high quality as I buy direct from labs and not from vendors or street. On the street, quality is less as people are known to cut it due to its extreme potency.”

Both admit that if a substitute of MXE appeared on the market, they would probably try it after first researching it. Although he was not a regular ketamine user and tried it only once in a club, M said that the ban might prompt him to try harder to find ketamine.

“Although I will certainly take a higher risk for a decent gear, e.g. MDMA crystals. So I suppose if someone could offer me some MXE of a known quality, then yes I would buy some. Because of the small amounts needed it could well survive being stepped on a few times through the middle man’s hands.”

When asked to comment on decriminalising and legalising certain drugs, M said: “For a start it would stop the curious people who like the whole naughtiness of dealing and scoring gear, it would give people a safe choice but it will  never happen in the UK, even Amsterdam is now pulling back a bit. It would take a government with balls to even suggest it, middle England would be up in arms, can you imagine the Daily Mail?

“England is not ready to lose the whole drug stigma.”

H said: “I think decriminalisation is the way forward. Increased regulation would see less damage done due to cut drugs, less crime caused by drug dealing and a lesser strain on our criminal system. I believe education is the way towards this.

“I remember being taught in school that if I went near cannabis it would kill me and be immediately destructive to my life. Gaining this kind of information is propaganda not education.

“It still bewilders me how people can be so closed-minded and constantly view drugs as something consistently negative while alcohol is socially acceptable. Things like the government ignoring the advice of Professor Nut and other drug advisory panels that have been convened is amazing to me.

“I think that current policy of criminalising someone caught with drugs has a negative effect as a whole. It blights their lives from that moment and I believe is more likely to make them continue to use, as they already have a ‘black mark’.

“If you truly want a substance you can get it regardless of the government intervention. Decriminalisation would recognise this and address the symptoms of the problems. A different approach is needed.”

On commenting about the government drug policies, M added: “The government get a hard time from the drug culture over their choices – they do seem draconian.

“The government have many more things to worry about than a few stoners’ rattling sabres, but they do seem to overlook a huge tax opportunity, and for a government that likes to shut hospitals down and take away funding they could have another income source from people who are going to do it anyway.

“Drugs are not the problem, it’s people who can’t handle drugs that are the problem. Guns kill people but a human has to pull the trigger. Education is the way forward. My drug education at school was the ‘just say no era’. It was not until I opened a book and discovered that they were lying to us.

“It’s unbelievable that a few people in power can make decisions for the majority, and feed us half truths and lies. That might work for a priest in church with a god-fearing flock, but in this age of information, I find out my self and do not listen to the government’s puppets.”

For background on the MXE ban, read MM’s interviews with Manchester drug experts here.


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