TODAY The Press launches a campaign for the drug mephedrone to be made illegal.

The drug, commonly known as bubbles, meow, meow or M-CAT, which can cost as little as £3 a dose, is becoming increasingly popular among young people in North and East Yorkshire.

For the moment, the drug which is commonly found in plant food, is perfectly legal, but its effects can be devastating.

Last week, a 17-year-old boy at Woldgate College, in Pocklington, collapsed and had to be rushed to hospital after taking the drug.

And yesterday police revealed a young man who had taken the drug in York had collapsed and stopped breathing, before being revived by paramedics. Our investigation also revealed a surge in the number of users needing emergency hospital treatment.

Det Con Louise Taylor, drugs liaison officer for York, said there was more mephedrone being seized than cocaine and that the drug’s sudden explosion on to the scene meant there was uncertainty as to just how serious its long-term impact could be.

She said: “We have no history of how it affects different people who are in effect guinea pigs. It is potentially very dangerous indeed.

“Our seizures of the drug – mainly from the street, in and around licensed properties and on the social scene in York – have overtaken seizures of cocaine.

“In our experience, those taking it are in their late teens and young adults. Our officers sometimes go out with paramedics at night and in one case in York earlier this month the paramedics were with a man who had taken this drug and his heart actually stopped. He was resuscitated, but obviously this is a very serious situation.”

Det Con Taylor said police were seizing the drug on a weekly basis and despite it being legal it could still lead to prosecutions for some people such as motorists caught driving under its influence.

The Home Office is understood to be considering making the drug illegal. It has already been banned in some countries, including Norway, Finland and Israel, where it has been linked to a number of deaths.

The Press will today launch a petition to persuade the Home Office to act urgently in making the use of mephedrone illegal.