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In times of toil and hardship, we rely on the things that never let us down: family, friends, Lemsip and Peep Show. For the country’s approximate 3.2 million drug users aged between 16-years-old and 59-years-old, continued access to their favourite narcotic will have a huge effect on the way they can navigate the next few weeks of isolation and skyscraping ennui.
But someone has to deliver them the goods and, with borders closing, a countrywide economic crisis, and social distancing keeping punters away from pubs and clubs, it must be a troubling time for our nation’s peddlers of party supplies. I spoke to a handful and got the skinny on drug-dealing in the age of coronavirus.
THE COKE DEALER
At the moment everything seems great. More people are buying coke because they are in their houses, bored. They are drinking at home and they invite a friend over and one thing leads to another and it turns into a house party and they order some coke. People are stressed out, there’s nothing to do, there’s only so many movies you can watch. People want to chinwag. All it takes is one drink really and they call us up.
I sell most of my coke in bars and clubs. One pub I sell in is still quite lively, but apparently they have to shut down soon. The football pub is deserted because there's no football, no-one buys from there anymore.
There hasn’t really been an impact on supplies because the drought hasn't hit yet, but there will be one I think. Importing will be harder. I can see it happening soon. I’ll have to start watering it down or charging more. The people I buy off will do the same. — Nev , 39, from London
THE MDMA AND PSYCHEDELICS DEALER
I sell drugs like LSD, DMT and MDMA that I create in my UK lab. We sell mostly on darknet marketplaces, as well as locally to people I personally know. The biggest effect for me is financial stability. I only accept cryptocurrency and the prices are fluctuating so much that I’ve had to start rejecting orders for certain coins, mainly BTC.
I know that crypto will eventually sort itself out and I’m not personally going to struggle, but I’m more worried about people that work with me – there are normally one or two other people in the lab, plus another doing orders. I wonder if I’ll be able to continue paying them but it will be very hard to run things solo. Everyone gets the same pay regardless of role, including myself, and profits get distributed evenly either at end of month or quarter
Another issue, or rather worry, is that a lot of the precursors I buy come from China so I’ve decided not to risk it. This has limited the drugs I sell due to the inability for me to extract and synthesise certain products such as 2CB. I’ll still be able to sell LSD and DMT.
My instinct tells me there should be no [health] issues importing because the virus probably can’t survive the delivery time, but I don’t know exactly how long it can last without a host and there’s too many variables. So until we know more about the virus and whether China is recovering as well as they say it is, I won’t purchase from there. It’s only really a precautionary step and I have alternatives but they require setting up new supply links and will result in probable price increase. — Root, 29, from Yorkshire
THE COCAINE, MDMA, KETAMINE, CANNABIS AND NITROUS OXIDE DEALER
I sell party drugs. Coronavirus has been good for business so far and I’ve been joking about it in texts – we did a deal the other week where I gave out free masks for orders over a £100. That brought the punters in, though things have slowed down now as people are going out less. But some are definitely buying larger orders and stockpiling. It’s [impacting] more on coke and the weed, as no-one’s raving, which is why MDMA sales have dropped a lot.
Still, there are going to be some mad parties over the next couple weeks. Lots of my customers are often quite young and I don’t know how much money they’re going to have to spend on sesh in a week or two. Business is presumably going to drop and prices will go up, especially with coke as supplies will go down. I’ve got savings so I’ll be fine, but I don’t know how much driving [around delivering] I’ll be able to do if a lockdown happens.
Currently, I try and take precautions by wearing gloves when I’m out doing deliveries and I would stop work if I became symptomatic: imagine if I coughed all over the gear and infected my customers! People seem pretty chill when they meet. I’m there to provide a good service, after all. I have had a few people get in the car wearing masks, but it doesn’t bother me. It’s up to them and we’re not there to chat about the weather. — Eddy, 21, from Nottingham
THE CANNABIS DEALER
Supplies of weed are already down and prices on an ounce have gone up from £160 to £240. That is an insane increase and I don’t want to pass that onto my customers, or have to start supplying product that isn’t suitable for them. I only deal a few ounces a week, and I don’t really see people as customers. I know what they like and what’s right for their brain chemistries
I’ve just been to see my supplier and am currently sorting out some final orders. After this Saturday I’m stopping and going into self-isolation until everything blows over. I grow my own stuff at home so my own use won’t be affected by coronavirus. Obviously I know it’s hugely worrying but I think coronavirus might be a good thing. People need a rest. Modern life is fucked up and the way we treat the planet isn’t natural. I hope it will help reset the way we think about the world. — Steve, 41, from Brighton