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Other Illegal Drugs Markets
Respondents in this study, aimed at regular cannabis users, were far more likely to have experimented with other illegal drugs than the general population; however the majority were experimental users (under 10 times ever), or longer-term but occasional users, of any illegal drugs except cannabis. They were asked for average prices they had paid locally in the last year. (Table 30 )
Reported prices of most illegal drugs varied widely, within and between regions. There were particularly large discrepancies in the prices of amphetamines, cocaine, and heroin. The street purities of these drugs are very variable, and they are often sold as "deals" or "wraps", for fixed prices regardless of quantity. "Gram" bags do not always contain accurate weight. Our samples were very small in some regions, and most respondents were not regular users. All of these factors might account for some of the price variations.
Some of our data can be compared with figures from the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS); in almost every case their prices were higher. (Full details of price variations by region are given in the Supplementary Tables).
LSD cost from an average £2.89 per dose in the Northwest to £3.58 in Scotland. NCIS gave prices of up to £5. Prices would usually be in increments of 50p. In batches of 10 they cost around £23 by our figures, up to £24.84 in Scotland.
MDMA (Ecstasy). The reported cost of £9.50 - £10.60 per tablet, was only slightly below the NCIS data; UK £11, range £7 - £20. Prices seemed to vary much more in batches of 10, from £84 in London. to £63 in Yorkshire/Humberside.
Psilocybin Mushrooms are usually picked rather than sold, and often given away for free. Most respondents who had ever used mushrooms did not answer the questions on prices. Sales would not always be by weight, but measured in numbers of mushrooms, whose weight would decrease with age. Where they were sold, there were significant regional differences in price, ranging from £0.41 per gram in Yorkshire/Humberside, to £8.35 in East Anglia, although these small regional samples should be treated with considerable caution.
Other Psychedelics. This question was insufficiently detailed. Other substances written in beside it, or mentioned in response to other questions, include Ketamine, Mescaline, DMT, bromo-STP, and a variety of psychoactive plants and fungi. Those sold in pill or powdered form may not have been what they were marketed as, either through fraud or ignorance by dealers and users. This price data is thus only useful as a guideline - that an unusual "trip" cost about £5 or £10, or is free.
Amphetamines Mean prices for "speed" ranged from £6.17 per gram in Scotland to £11.43 in the North East. NCIS quoted a UK price of £10 per gram, ranging from £3 (Brighton) to £18 (Leeds). The prices quoted take no account of purity, the difference between "base" and "street" quality amphetamine. These will be separated in future surveys, as price of amphetamine powders appears largely dependent on quality, and higher purity powders are commonly sold under the name of amphetamine "base" in user quantities. Mean amphetamine purity during 1997 was 14%, median purity 8-9%, and modal purity 5%, with four out of ten seizures involving amphetamine over 10% purity, according to official statistics.
Cocaine A gram reportedly cost £45 in most parts of the UK, £54 in London, which is much lower than the NCIS national price of £71. Some will have been sold as fixed-price "wraps". Purity levels in 1997 would have been high; the mean from police seizures was 52% pure, from Customs" 70%, with 94% of all seizures over 20% pure, and 43% over 60% pure. The price of cocaine appeared remarkably consistent across the UK, but our sample was too small to be significant in several regions.
Crack Prices per "rock" appeared stable nationally at approx. £20 by our figures, consistent with the £10-£35 range quoted by NCIS. The actual size of the "rocks" will vary, with isolated prices in the range of £40-£200. NCIS prices are based on 200mg per rock, forensic analyses of "rocks" up to 1994 suggested a mean weight of 147mg (although a proportion of rocks may have been part-used before seizure).
Heroin Prices per "bag" varied enormously, from £7.76 in the "North" to £26.67 in London. The standard "bag" or deal varies in size, from 0.1 gram to 0.5g, as well as in purity. Purity levels of police seizures averaged 35% in 1997, and Customs" averaged 34%, with 80% of all seizures in the range 20%-60% pure. This would seem to indicate that not very much adulteration takes place after the drug gets past Customs. Prices per gram also varied very widely, from £45 in the Midlands/Wales to £93 in Scotland. Our sample, again, was very small, but with a wide geographic spread; NCIS figures are similar, ranging from £40-£100, with a UK mean of £74.
Barbiturates and Tranquillisers may have been prescribed rather than bought illicitly, and a number of prices of £0 were given. There were very few barbiturate users altogether. The lowest mean price was £0.60 per tablet in London, the highest £2.75 in the Midlands. These may represent different drugs, different availability on prescription between regions, or regional fashions - many reports indicate a considerable Scottish trade in Temazepam ("Jellies") which are far less wide spread in England. Tranquillisers cost most in Scotland, £6.53 each, against £0.42 in London.
Other Drugs written in as having ever been used included opium (20 users, price range £3-£20/g, mean price £9.50/g); Ketamine (17 users, range £3-£40, mean £18), DMT (5 users, £2.40-£15, mean £7.60/dose); Methadone (4 users, 1 price of £5 per 10ml); Mescaline (3 users); Amyl Nitrate (3 users, £3.50); 2-CB (2 users, £2.50 and £10); "Base" amphetamine (2 users, £20/g or £25/g); "Speed" pills (£2 or £3), and several others. All of these prices can only be indicative, as there is no reliable detail of quantities bought, or quality, or even whether the drug was what the consumer believed it to be.
"Bliss" The fictitious drug which we included as an "error detector" yielded 18 respondents, around 1.5%, who claimed to have tried it, at prices between £4-£15. A pill of this name containing plant extracts has been sold as a "legal high" recently.. Future surveys will dignify the "error detector" drug with a more pseudo-scientific name.
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