18 February 2010

No Future For Cocaine

I wrote a note in October 2009, "Whose Profits Would Home Made Sublimaze Threaten?", speculating on the effect that synthetics such as sublimaze would have on the market for drugs such as heroin.

"... is heroin so cheap that it is cheaper to import rather than manufacture a more potent substitute, ie fentanyl?"

I suggested that the market as-is doesn't make sense.

Curiously, while reading McMafia by Misha Glenny, I came across the following quote on p302,

"Cocaine has no future. Wherever amphetamines and synthetic drugs have arrived on the market, like China, South-East Asia, Mexico, then there is always a big boom and it replaces everthying, cocaine, heroin, the lot. ... So the future is in the new drugs. The market will change and determine this. They don't need the narco-traffickers. The furture will be completely different."

This quotation is from someone called Dr Sandro Calvani who is the Director of the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI).

I wonder how fast this will change and what are the drivers.

The quote above suggests personal preference by the consumer as one of the drivers but lurking in the background is cost of production. Cost of production, of course, being predicated on production techniques, primarily (in my view) continuous flow processes.

The latter technique enables non-experts to produce high quality product provided that the necessary parameters for doing so have been predetermined. Just as using a mobile 'phone allows one to use incredibly sophisticated technology without an in depth, nuts 'n' bolts understanding of the process.

Expect to see equipment being seised by the police that can produce ca 20 g (or less) of pure synthetic product per day; expect the equipment to be about the size of a microwave oven and expect the controller of the equipment to be supplying a relatively small number of people.

The battle will then shift to controlling and tracking raw materials for these processes.

Watch this space.
25th June 2010 ... pertinent to my analysis above is the following, Synthetic drugs popular as use of opiates wanes - UN, from the BBC.

"Drug use is moving away from cocaine and opiates and towards synthetic drugs such as amphetamines, the UN says.

In its World Drug Report it says it expects that soon there will be more people using synthetic drugs than opium, heroin and cocaine together.

Of interest from a chemistry point of view is whether any of these synthetics will be made by continuous flow techniques as described above.

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