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Dunderman 05-16-2003 03:13 AM

Cutting cocaine
 
This may be more suited for General Questions. In today's Staff Report, Why do cops in movies taste cocaine?, Hawk writes:
Quote:

It's possible to detect the flavors of its cutting agents, such as sugar, flour, cornstarch, or baking soda. (...) The cutting agents are usually harmless, but you don't want to be the one who got the coke that was cut with poison.
I know next to nothing about drugs, but I'm assuming "cutting" cocaine means mixing it with something. Why would you do this at all? I'm, again, assuming it's because it's very easy to take an overdose of "pure" cocaine. So, my next question is: why would you cut it with poison? Unless you're actually trying to kill someone quickly (drug dealers tend to prefer killing their customers slowly), it must be easier and cheaper to cut it with sugar or flour, right?

Nametag 05-16-2003 08:56 AM

It's more profitable to cut a drug with some cheap material that mimics the drug, so that you can sell it to the unwary as uncut (or less cut). Such materials will have to produce some effect similar to a characteristic of the drug: the same "tang" when tasting it, the same burn when injecting it, or some such. Materials like this can be cheaper drugs (like cutting MDMA with methamphetamine, back in the old days), or chemicals which have similar superficial qualities, but no real drug activity (like cutting heroin with something white, fluffy, and bitter). These materials, when not actually poisonous, have radically different dosage requirements and present a danger to the user.

Of course, I think Hawk was being a little tongue in cheek here, but that's my best guess, anyway.

UselessGit 05-16-2003 11:52 AM

Incidently, many dealers do not seem to have the insight of Nametag and Hawk and cut cocaine and amphetamines (and such) with (variations of) sugar. In the old days I sometimes wasnt sure if I should snort the stuff or spread on my cheerios. On the other hand the real stuff wreaks havoc on your teeth, so Im glad I never reached for the Os...

kunoichi 05-16-2003 08:36 PM

Let's also consider that your typical drug dealer is more concerned with profit than the well-being of his fellow man...
In practice though, flour, sugar, baking powder, etc. are more easily accessible, less suspicious to buy in large quantities, and cheaper, so cutting any drug with "poison" (at least one worse for you than the controlled substance!) is fairly rare.

Dunderman 05-17-2003 02:22 PM

Quote:

Originally posted by kunoichi
Let's also consider that your typical drug dealer is more concerned with profit than the well-being of his fellow man...
Yeah, but he usually wants his fellow man to stay alive long enough to buy drugs again, right? And I assume that a lot of druggies know each other and if one of them dies from cocaine cut with poison, no-one is going to buy from that dealer again.
Quote:

In practice though, flour, sugar, baking powder, etc. are more easily accessible, less suspicious to buy in large quantities, and cheaper, so cutting any drug with "poison" (at least one worse for you than the controlled substance!) is fairly rare.
But it does happen?

kunoichi 05-17-2003 04:15 PM

Actually you'd be surprised... typical druggie mentality runs like this: Bob buys drugs from Joe. Bob dies. Sam sees that Bob dies, thinks "Damn this is some good stuff!" buys from Joe and cuts it in half. Sometimes Sam will get lucky and cutting it decreases the dose below the lethal dose.

Cutting drugs with poison does happen, my point isn't that the rarity of it makes doing drugs safe. It just makes it like a game of Russian Roulette with somewhat better odds. Actually, what happens a lot of the time is one drug of abuse gets sold as another, so it's very easy to overdose. An example that comes to mind is "synthetic heroin", or fentanyl. The effective does and lethal dose are very close, usually on the order of a few milligrams. Some wiseguys get the idea to sell fentanyl as heroin (fentanyl is possible to synthesize whereas heroin needs to be extracted from opium so it's easier to come by for someone with an education in chemistry, at least), and the schmuck who buys it ODs and dies.

kunoichi 05-17-2003 04:17 PM

Forgot to mention, yeah the dealer wants repeat customers, but things like crack cocaine are so addictive it's not very hard to find a new client base.

foolsguinea 05-17-2003 04:41 PM

Quote:

Originally posted by UselessGit
In the old days I sometimes wasnt sure if I should snort the stuff or spread on my cheerios. On the other hand the real stuff wreaks havoc on your teeth, so Im glad I never reached for the Os...
I'm told that the reason so many street drugs do a number on the teeth is that the people who make them use acetone as a solvent during manufacture. Acetone is an amazing solvent, pretty cheap, readily available, & definitely not intended for human consumption. This is probably how most "poisons" get in drugs.

kunoichi 05-17-2003 10:56 PM

Um... what drugs are you talking about? I know for a fact that acetone evaporates very quickly, so by the time you use it, there isn't any acetone left, even if it is used in manufacture. Besides, acetone is an organic solvent and the hard parts of your teeth are made from inorganic material, so it really doesn't make much sense that they'd dissolve anyway. But, you are right about cheap and readily available being how poisons get in drugs.

I didn't notice the teeth comment earlier, but the reason meth and amphetamines (And ectasy, hence the pacifiers in rave culture) are hard on your teeth is usually that one of the effects of using it is grinding your teeth. Also, a lot of meth heads stop caring about personal hygiene (one of the effects of addiction), so toothbrushing declines.

Getuhgrip 05-18-2003 03:30 PM

Acetone is indeed a base product in the process of manufacturing cocaine. It has a numbing effect quickly experienced by gums or the tip of one's tongue. It is this numbing quality rather than taste that is generaly tested for.

I believe lactose is the most common cutting ingredient used with methamphetamin and cocaine as it has virtualy no taste and doesn't inflame nasal tissue.

My first post here: spewing out vague knowledge of illicit substance production and marketing! An ice breaker never the less.

foolsguinea 05-18-2003 04:11 PM

I don't know. I have no cite, I just heard someone (who worked with recovering addicts) say that you could tell meth users by their pitted teeth, which was actually from the acetone. Didn't sound like the effect of grinding teeth, which of course amphetamines are known to cause.

kunoichi 05-18-2003 04:57 PM

Acetone is indeed a reactant in the production of crack cocaine, however crack is generally smoked, not inhaled or ingested. The acetone is boiled off before it's sold, and even if it wasn't it would evaporate when you light it off to smoke it. The hydrochloride (powder) form of cocaine is snorted, so acetone in it wouldn't affect your teeth anyway.

As for methamphetamine, a certain type of "crystal meth" is only recrystallized and/or washed in acetone to improve its appearance. Once again, acetone evaporates very quickly (it's boiling point is 50 degrees Celsius, for comparison distilled water boils at 100 C), if you dont' believe me go grab a bottle of acetone nail polish remover and leave the cap off (in a well ventilated area with no heat sources, please!). I assure you it will be gone in a short enough time that should convince you that there's none left to corrode your teeth.

Finally, assuming that any of these substances were actually soaked in acetone and consumed orally, the hard part of your teeth are made from a mineral called hydroxyapatite, the chemical formula of that is Ca5(PO4)3OH. This compound is not soluble in acetone. Maybe you're thinking of acetic acid....

I am a chemist and qualified to testify as an expert in drug analysis in court, so I'm sticking to my guns. Meanwhile, I'd suggest you guys find some better sources of information ;)

Peter Morris 05-28-2003 07:43 AM

Quote:

I believe lactose is the most common cutting ingredient used with methamphetamin and cocaine as it has virtualy no taste and doesn't inflame nasal tissue.
Who says lactose has no taste? It tastes similar to honey. Its what gives the sweet taste in condensed milk. Its frequently used as a sweetener in alcoholic drinks, because yeast cannot ferment it so it sweetens without inctreasing the alcohol content. I've done some home brewing myself, so I know a little about it.

braintree 05-28-2003 09:47 AM

This reminds of an incident I was involved in a few years back. Some guy tried to steal a friend's purse and I and a bunch of other friends chased him down Seventh Avenue around a corner and into.....about two dozen cops who were standing right in the middle of Grove Street investigating another crime. Naturally, this required a visit to the stationhouse. While there, I got a kick out of two things. The first was that when the cops searched the gonif they found a book in which he'd been keeping, for reasons obscure, an exact accounting of how much money he'd stolen and then spent on drugs which, one assumes, would be an enourmous help to the prosecutor. The second was when the desk cop a classic beefy Irish-looking guy with a dirty blond moustache unfolded piece of wax paper inside of which was a fine white powder and announced to us, "That's either heroin or cocaine. We don't taste it here." He then went on to do a pretty good comedy routine. "You know how on television when they see powder and they stick their finger in it and say, 'Hm. Must be cocaine.' How the f*** can they tell that? We can't tell that but they're always going 'Hm. Must be cocaine."

I hope the story hasn't lost something in the retelling but that cop was a genuine hoot.

kunoichi 05-28-2003 07:09 PM

Quote:

Originally posted by braintree
[B]The first was that when the cops searched the gonif they found a book in which he'd been keeping, for reasons obscure, an exact accounting of how much money he'd stolen and then spent on drugs which, one assumes, would be an enourmous help to the prosecutor.
Actually, recordkeeping is more likely to be indicative of a dealer... as with any business, you need to keep track of how much money you spend on supplies, how much you sell your stuff for, how to cut the drugs to make the greatest profit, etc.

Funny story tho :)


As for the previous post about lactose (too lazy to quote here), I think they meant to say "relatively" no taste... compared to straight cocaine or heroin, that is. Cocaine, to me, smells kinda like play-doh with a more "chemical" smell. Heroin smells like ground up Cheerios or some other grain-y smell... maybe I'm weird tho ;D

Speaking of which, it's amazing how little heroin is actually cut nowadays... apparently people like to snort it now. Causes a lot of dead junkies who insist on injecting the pure stuff...

braintree 06-04-2003 12:52 PM

Nice guess about the guy being a dealer but I don't think so for two reasons: 1) the cops didn't think he was a dealer and 2) if you saw the guy, you wouldn't think he was a dealer, either. He had "inept waste" written all over him.

On the other hand, those two points are admittedly judgement calls and, therefore, hardly conclusive.

braintree 06-04-2003 12:55 PM

Oops. One other point: If he was a dealer then why the handbag theft, right? If he's selling he shouldn't need to steal.


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