Why is cocaine so strong at the moment... and where's it all coming from? - Comment - Mixmag

Why is cocaine so strong at the moment... and where's it all coming from?

The changing political landscape in Colombia means coke in the UK is stronger, and cheaper, than many users can remember

  • Words: Mike Power | Illustration: Sam Taylor
  • 31 May 2017
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The result of this is that kilogram prices in the UK are down by about 30-40 per cent over the last decade, with a kilogram of high purity cocaine now available for between £25,000-£35,000. Prices have shifted on the street, too. The cocaine market used to divide into two tiers: expensive uncut powder at £100 a gram, and heavily cut material at £40-£50 a gram. Top-quality cocaine now costs around £50-70 a gram on the dark web, often at purity levels above 75-80 per cent. It used to cost £100 a gram, even online, for such quality.

And while drugs of that purity never used to reach towns such as Eastbourne, the dark web’s democratisation of the drug supply chain means a dealer in a seaside town has access to stronger drugs than ever before. Anyone with a postbox and a net connection can be a dealer in Class A drugs today, with very few obstacles.

But while purer cocaine may seem good news from a user’s perspective, the true impact of higher-purity levels of the drug can be seen in a doubling in cocaine-related hospitalisations, according to the Global Drugs Survey 2016.

"Over the last three years the proportion of [cocaine users responding to the GDS 2016] in the UK seeking emergency medical treatment has doubled from 0.5 per cent to 1 per cent,” stud lead Dr Adam Winstock said.

The online survey polled 120,000 worldwide users of all drugs, with 1 in 5 of respondents saying they had used cocaine in the last 12 months.

The advice from experts is simple: do less, less often – and avoid other stimulants and moderate alcohol consumption while using. If a friend complains of or displays an irregular heart rate, extremely high body temperature, extreme anxiety or confusion, psychosis, nausea, agitation or tremors, call an ambulance.

Mike Power is the author of Drugs 2.0 and a regular contributor to Mixmag. Follow him on Twitter

Sam Taylor is a freelance illustrator. Follow him on Instagram

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