Drink and Drugs News DDN July_August 2019 | Page 11

eb reviewed by other purchasers. With the summer festival season upon us, a host of recreational users will be obliged to go back to suppliers in clubs and festivals, with all the elevated risk that this entails. Granted, there was always a level of uncertainty with any pill, as the escalating potency of pills on the market shows. But even the modicum of safety provided by the darknet sites has now been removed. THE HIDDEN POPULATION BUYING PHARMACEUTICALS AND OTHER SUBSTANCES FOR MEDICAL OR QUASI-MEDICAL USE. As UK prescribers have started to clamp down on benzo, opiate and pregabalin prescribing, a cohort of people have been sourcing these off the darknet. There are also people buying THC for medicinal reasons and people microdosing on mushrooms, LSD or ketamine. We have no idea how large this market was. With the demise of Dream Market, anyone reliant on this market place and possibly physically addicted to the substances they were purchasing will need to access treatment. They may not be able to wean themselves off their own stash – their supply just vanished. This will be a key concern for those who have been sourcing Xanax (alprazolam) off the darknet. I suspect a degree of scarcity as stocks already in the UK dwindle. RECREATIONAL CLUB AND PARTY DRUGS. Dream Market had made it easier to buy a range of club drugs, from obscure psychedelics to MDMA, with a better chance of getting some product that was www.drinkanddrugsnews.com SYNTHETIC CANNABINOIDS. My suspicion is that it will be harder for the smaller city-level dealers who have been buying in SCRAs (synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists) – for onward sale to prisons and the homeless population – to source products. Granted, some will buy directly from manufacturers in Asia. But low-level suppliers were buying from importers and redistributing to prisons and the street, and it is at this level I think availability will go down. While less ‘spice’ is no bad thing, the obvious drug of choice, especially for the street homeless SCRA users, is heroin. Anecdotal feedback from training says that this has already started to happen in some areas. Any changes will take a while to trickle through to the street drugs market as existing stocks of drugs are used up. If laws of supply and demand hold true, cost may well go up, and quality may also suffer. The relative ‘power’ of buyers, provided by the choice the darknet markets offered, is replaced by the risks of the normal street drugs market. It is impossible to be certain what will happen over the next six months, but we can be sure that you can’t remove two huge pillars of the darknet drugs market without some impact on end users. It will certainly be an interesting few months. Kevin Flemen runs the drugs education and training initiative, KFx – www.kfx.org.uk July/August 2019 | drinkanddrugsnews | 11