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PORTFOLIO: JUSTICE
In this section: 54 Heroin | 56 Interview: Alan Miller | 57 Beyond the headlines: Evil |
Drug of choice
With reports of a heroin shortage in
Scotland, Rory Cahill asks what the impact
of a structural change in our drug markets
will be
H
ave you been having trouble get-
ting weight lately? Reduced to
buying tenners of the death muck stuff ?
Found the whole scramble for a bag a
day thing so tiresome and stressful that
you are seriously considering going into
treatment?
Given the demographics of Holy-
rood’s readership, it’s unlikely that recent
heroin shortages have had too much of
an impact on your day-to-day life. But
for those addicts caught in the Ground-
hog Day routine of having to source
money, and then heroin in order to stave
off withdrawal, they certainly have.
But what is interesting is the nature
of the shortages. Have they been purely
localised events? Or is this something
that is happening across the country?
How long will it last? Are we seeing a
seismic shift in the nature of illegal drug
markets? And what is the cause of the
shortage? Have our police finally man-
aged to get the upper hand in the never-
ending battle against hard drug import-
ers and distributors? Similar situations are recorded in and that’s what people are used to. You
The first thing to establish is that Dundee, Lanarkshire and in England. just get less for your tenner. But that has
there has been, and according to anec- But the users also record occasionally and hasn’t happened in this case because
dotal reports, there continues to be, a stumbling upon ‘good gear’, proof that although there are undoubtedly shortages,
shortage of heroin not only in Scotland, supplies haven’t dried up entirely. These some dealers are still providing bags that
but across the wider UK. On a variety of anecdotal reports tally with the situation are very good quality in terms of weight
drug-focused websites, heroin users, both police on the frontlines are encountering. and purity.The increasing use of diazepam
hardcore addicts and more casual users, Why sho
null
uld “Yes we have had reports of short- – better known as Valium – is telling as
record difficulty in obtaining heroin, than
we care
ages of heroin, but recently, we have addicts often use the tranquiliser to ‘inflate’
the often low quality of product they do
if heroin
recovered bags that are substantial in the effects of low purity heroin.”
source. The shortages began to bite in
addicts
terms of purity and weight. The other But why, after years of record opium
August and have yet fully to abate. indication in terms of shortages has been harvests in Afghanistan, would there be
One user, ‘MsMogadon’, writes:
can’t source
the increase in the popularity of diaz- any shortages whatsoever? While opium
“I’m in the NE of Scotland and the dry
their
epam,” says Detective Sergeant Kenny cultivation did fall by six per cent this
up here has been a bastard. I’m only able drugs? Simpson, of the Strathclyde Police drug year, this small fall comes after seven
to buy bags at a time and I never know if squad. consecutive years of enormous yields.
there’ll be more. This has meant I can’t
guarantee I’ll be fit for work. And I was
null
“Normally when there is a shortage, it’s With such a glut of heroin on the mar-
hard to source, people turn to other drugs, ket – according to the figures we have
meant to graduate in a few months, and and the bags come down in weight. The regarding worldwide production and
now it looks like I might not be able to price never goes up. A tenner bag remains use – there is no logical reason why sup-
finish my degree. I’ve had to start shoot- a tenner bag, because that’s the unit in ply should be in any way restricted in a
ing up to economise.” which it’s dealt. That’s a marketing thing mature market like Scotland.
54
| 15 December 2008 | Holyrood magazine | www.holyrood.com |
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