What’s Legality Got To Do With It ? Sales and marketing of mephedrone in the UK under a legislative vacuum
Judith Aldridge is originally from Toronto Canada, but has lived and worked in the UK since 1989. Recent projects include one on sales and purchasing decisions of the (recently criminalised) drug mephedrone, and another on drug dealing and other ways of doing business within gangs. She is currently looking at how new internet technologies are transforming drugs markets. Judith is co-author of Illegal Leisure Revisited (2011), the revised edition of the best-selling Illegal Leisure : The Normalisation of Adolescent Recreational Drug Use (Routledge 1998) and of Dancing on Drugs : Risk, Health and Hedonism in the British Club Scene (Free Association Books 2001).
Lundi 29 octobre 2012
11h45 à 13h00
Pavillon Lionel-Groulx, local C-4141
3150, rue Jean-Brillant
Summary : Interviews were conducted with 26 sellers (including importers) of mephedrone (aka ’bath salts’), and 18 buyers from January to April 2010 just prior to UK prohibition of the drug. Sellers were characterised as ’legitimate’ traders (online or in specialist high street shops) and a diverse range of ’shadow’ traders, some of whom sold large quantities (< 200g/week) and alongside illegal drugs. Highly entrepreneurial marketing and sales strategies brought increasing numbers of ’shadow’ traders into the market from late 2009, both meeting and extending demand for the drug, and to meet the ’right here, right now’ requirements of some users. A hurdle for early shadow traders involved disabusing experienced stimulant drug takers of the belief that a legal drug could not be effective/desirable. Some managed this by selling mephedrone as an illegal drug, although news reports of supposed mephedrone deaths sealed the deal, with demand spiking dramatically at this time. Harms usually associated with the illegal drugs trade (’cutting’, ’taxing’) were found in both the legitimate and shadow trade. The unprecedented increases in the use of mephedrone in the UK in the 12 months prior to its prohibition can to some extent be explained by the highly entrepreneurial marketing and sales strategies used by both legitimate and shadow traders and importers. Prohibition of mephedrone cannot solely be responsible for ’pushing’ supply into the hands of criminals, since criminality was evident prior to prohibition, pointing to extensive blurring of licit and illicit markets.