Harder, better, faster, stronger: Potent narcotics | The Economist

30 Nov 2016 02:13 17
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Street drugs are getting purer. As part of the Daily Watch drugs week we explore the market forces contributing to the rise in potency

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Many drug users today are getting more than they may have bargained for. Why are people getting higher? It's simple market forces. Some consumers buy their drugs online where they can rate and review the product and expose the peddlers of bad gear.

Customers have shown they're willing to pay for quality and legal highs offered fresh competition to old school dealers. legal highs are psychoactive products made from various chemicals that produce similar effects to illegal drugs. Dealers have responded increasing the purity of their products.

Authorities have unwittingly played a part cracking down on over-the-counter anaesthetics that were widely cut with cocaine. Cutting agents are substances used to dilute the drug and bulk the quantity.

Ecstasy purity suffered after a clampdown on the supply of chemicals used it its production. But suppliers innovated. They turned to new recipes with a new ingredient - a synthetic chemical that's easy to make and legal. The result is a new stronger generation of pills.

But the people taking a bigger hit are also taking a bigger risk as their drugs become more potent, so does the chance they will misjudge and overdose.

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