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DEADLY CLUB DRUG BANNED.

Byline: SAM LISTER

A KILLER party drug will be outlawed from midnight tonight after a campaign by a Wirral MP.

GHB (gammahydroxybutrate) is now a Class C drug and will carry a maximum five-year jail penalty and up to two years for possession.

Used by clubbers as an alternative to ecstasy,it also one of the most common date rape drugs and has been linked to 70% of sexual assaults involving drugs.

It is readily available at sex shops, on the internet and on the body building circuit, where it is used as a growth stimulant.

Wirral South Labour MP Ben Chapman launched a campaign calling for it to be banned after the death of a Merseyside man.

Ian Hignett, 27, of Durley Drive, Prenton,died in 1998 after taking a pounds 5dose of GHB.

The chemistry graduate, who worked as a laboratory technician for Unilever,had a 25ml shot while drinking before a night out.

He passed out but his friends believed he had just fallen asleep and left him at the home he had bought just three months before.

When they returned the following day they found him dead.

In small doses, the drug acts as an ``upper'' but larger doses produce an anaesthetic effect which can lead to respiratory problems.

It is potentially lethal when mixed with other substances, particularly alcohol.

Mr Chapman said: ``I am glad the government has outlawed the drug.

``It is incredibly dangerous and has killed but has been easily available.

``People are under the impression it is relatively harmless but it is really a wolf in sheep's clothing.

``It is used recreationally and is a well known date rape drug,it's harmful and I'm glad it has finally been banned. It won't stop it being available underground but this gives the police powers to prosecute users and those who sell it.''

GHB is also nicknamed ``GBH'' by users. Other street names for the drug include fantasy, soap, goop, Georgia Home Boy, Organic Quaaludes, Blue Juice and Gammo-O.

n GHB is usually sold in liquid form -a 30ml plastic bottle costs about pounds 15-but can also be bought as a powder.

n Max Factor heir Andrew Luster, recaptured by a bounty hunter in Mexico this month, was convicted of rape and jailed for 124 years in California after being convicted of using GHB in multiple rapes.

n A 25-year-old woman from Horwich,near Bolton,Greater Manchester,last year admitted pulling out 18 of her own teeth while hallucinating after taking GHB. Her boyfriend was cleared of inflicting grievous bodily harm on her after she told Bolton Crown Court she was trying to stop a ``luminous green and pink fly'' from choking her.

CAPTION(S):

CAMPAIGN: Ben ChapmanVICTIM: Ian Hignett
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 30, 2003
Words:456
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