One of the few things I’ve written about here which I’m actually proud of is the death of Gabrielle Price. Covering the death of a child is difficult and I don’t really want to do it again because it made me sad. The ECB makes me angry, and has caused more harm than I can comprehend, but it doesn’t make me sad in the same way as a politicised death of a child.
If you’ve heard of Gabrielle Price, and you probably haven’t, anywhere other than this blog then it is likely you think she died at a party after taking mephedrone (or meow meow as nobody outside Fleet Street called it) . I started covering the drug and her death because it seemed a moral panic was in the offing and I wanted to document one develop.
Mephedrone did actually kill some people, but far less than reported – the weasel word “linked” does a lot of work in the literature. But that was enough for the then Labour government to discuss making it illegal as part of a job creation scheme for the underworld.
Gabrielle Price didn’t die from taking the then legal high, it was broncho-pneumonia following a streptococcal A infection that killed her. You can follow the sad tale here, here, here and here. Hopefully one of the uses of this blog is that people googling her name might know she died boringly, normally, of a lung infection not from a drug with a funny name.
Anyway, the drug which didn’t kill her and which didn’t kill many people was banned and promptly stayed available, decreased in purity, modestly increased in price. I’ve never been in favour of banning drugs, quit the opposite, and I found the linking of her death to the drug depressing and enraging.
Yesterday, I found out today that New Zealand are taking a completely different approach and will test, monitor and regulate legal highs like mephedrone:
It’s the first nation to take a dramatically different approach to psychoactive substances like party pills and synthetic marijuana… [that] go by names like bath salts, spice or meow-meow.
In a 119-to-1 vote on Thursday, the country’s parliament passed the Psychoactive Substances Bill, establishing a framework for testing, manufacturing and selling such recreational drugs. (via)
Anyway, this made me think about the “Gabrielle Price” google alert I set up at the end of 2009. It returned depressingly misleadiong results about her for a long, long time after her death. But I realised I can’t have received one in years now. And that makes me happy.