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“Strawberry Quik” Methamphetamine: Anatomy of a moral panic

This Magazine Staff

A few weeks ago, North American media outlets started running stories about the worst thing either law enforcement or parents could imagine. A new formulation of crystal meth had appeared on the scene, one that was pink and sweetened, dubbed “Strawberry Quik” and aimed at schoolkids.
According to police, it was poised to sweep the country. Even in harm-reduction circles, we started asking ourselves if this horrible-sounding phenomenon could really be happening.

It doesn’t look like it. The US-based drug-policy group Join Together, a project of the Boston University School of Public Health, dug into the headlines a bit further and found less of a problem than had initially been suggested. They noted: “Flavored meth is somewhat akin to the Loch Ness Monster: everyone has heard of it, but firsthand sightings are hard to track down and verify.”

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency told Join Together they in fact had no confirmed seizures of “flavoured” methamphetamine. One drug expert told the agency that pink-coloured meth was a real possibility, but this was because of the dye that one precursor ingredient sometimes contains rather than any nefarious intentions.
The agency also talked to a former meth cook, who suggested the idea of “flavouring” meth—which is usually snorted, smoked or injected rather than eaten—made little sense and would be likely to hard to integrate into the manufacturing process of the drug.
The initial news story pitted evil drug dealers against vulnerable children. The reality, as usual, is more complex. To read the detailed investigation, go here.

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