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Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. Cocaine is a stimulant and appitite suprecent. It gives users what has been described as a euphoric sense of happyness and an increase in energy. Although most often used recreationaly cocaine can be used as a topical anystetic. Cocaine can be psychologically addictive, and its possession, cultivation, and distribution is illegal in almost all parts of the world.
Are we still selling this "psychologically addictive" equivocation? Cocaine is a narcotic and is highly addictive; withdrawal includes muscle and joint pains, vomiting, hallucinations, sleeplessness, neuralgia and fatigue. How do I know? Did I read a book? Am I a narc? I am a recovered cocaine addict and you are doing your readers a grave disservice by not alerting them to the truth about this substance
Although it is illegeal it remains a popular recreational drug. Before its prohibition users of the drug included President Uylisses S. Grant, and was the key ingreedient in Coca Cola.
Cocaine in its purest form is a white, pearly product. The slang term for fishscale cocaine is derived from this "pearly" appearance, because it resembles the different colors and shine of a fish scale (zoology). Cocaine appearing in powder form is a salt, typically cocaine hydrochloride (CAS 53-21-4). Black market cocaine is frequently adulterated or “cut” with various powdery fillers to increase its weight; the substances most commonly used in this process are baking soda; sugars, such as lactose, dextrose, inositol, and mannitol; and local anesthetics, such as lidocaine or benzocaine, which mimic or add to cocaine's numbing effect on mucous membranes. Cocaine may also be "cut" with other stimulants such as methamphetamine. Adulterated cocaine is often a white, off-white or pinkish powder. Contrary to popular belief, Novacaine (procaine) and benzocaine are not very closely chemically-related to cocaine, although they do share a common benzoic acid molecule as well as similar nerve-anesthesia properties. These chemicals will not cause a false-positive for cocaine in drug-tests.
The color of “crack” cocaine depends upon several factors including the origin of the cocaine used, the method of preparation – with ammonia or sodium bicarbonate – and the presence of impurities, but will generally range from white to a yellowish creme to a light brown. Its texture will also depend on the adulterants, origin and processing of the powdered cocaine, and the method of converting the base; but will range from a crumbly texture, sometimes extremely oily, to a hard, almost crystalline nature.
Forms of cocaine
Cocaine sulfate is produced by macerating coca leaves along with water that has been acidulated with sulfuric acid, or a naphtha-based solvent, like kerosene or benzene. This is often accomplished by putting the ingredients into a vat and stamping on it, in a manner similar to the traditional method for crushing grapes. After the cocaine is extracted, the water is evaporated to yield a pasty mass of impure cocaine sulfate.
As the name implies, “freebase” is the base form of cocaine, as opposed to the salt form of cocaine hydrochloride. Whereas cocaine hydrochloride is extremely soluble in water, cocaine base is insoluble in water and is therefore not suitable for drinking or snorting. Cocaine hydrochloride is not well-suited for smoking because the temperature at which it vaporizes is very high, and close to the temperature at which it burns; however, cocaine base vaporizes at a low temperature, which makes it suitable for inhalation.
Smoking freebase is preferred by many users because the cocaine is absorbed immediately into blood via the lungs, where it reaches the brain in about five seconds. The rush is much more intense than sniffing the same amount of cocaine nasally, but the effects do not last as long. The peak of the freebase rush is over almost as soon as the user exhales the vapor, but the high typically lasts 5–10 minutes afterward. What makes freebasing particularly dangerous is that users typically don't wait that long for their next hit and will continue to smoke freebase until none is left. These effects are similar to those that can be achieved by injecting or “slamming” cocaine hydrochloride, but without the risks associated with intravenous drug use (though there are other serious risks associated with smoking freebase).
A pile of crack cocaine ‘rocks’.Due to the dangers of using ether to produce pure freebase cocaine, cocaine producers began to omit the step of removing the freebase cocaine precipitate from the ammonia mixture. Typically, filtration processes are also omitted. The end result of this process is that the cut, in addition to the ammonium salt (NH4Cl), remains in the freebase cocaine after the mixture is evaporated. The “rock” that is thus formed also contains a small amount of water. Sodium bicarbonate is also preferred in preparing the freebase, for when commonly "cooked" the ratio is 50/50 to 40/60 percent cocaine/bicarbonate. This acts as a filler which extends the overall profitability of illicit sales. Crack cocaine may be reprocessed in small quantities with water (users refer to the resultant product as "cookback"). This removes the residual bicarbonate, and any adulterants or cuts that have been used in the previous handling of the cocaine and leaves a relatively pure, anhydrous cocaine base.
When the rock is heated, this water boils, making a crackling sound (hence the onomatopoeic “crack”). Baking soda is now most often used as a base rather than ammonia for reasons of lowered stench and toxicity; however, any weak base can be used to make crack cocaine. Strong bases, such as sodium hydroxide, tend to hydrolyze some of the cocaine into non-psychoactive ecgonine.
Crack is unique because it offers a strong cocaine experience in small, easily affordable packages. In the United States, crack cocaine is often sold in small, inexpensive dosage units frequently known as "a blast" (equivalent to one hit) or “nickels”, “nickel rocks”, or "bumps" (referring to the price of $5.00), and also “dimes”, “dime rocks”, or "boulders" and sometimes as “twenties”, “solids", "slabs" and “forties” or wafers referred to as "cookies." The quantity provided by such a purchase varies depending upon many factors, such as local availability, which is affected by geographic location. A twenty may yield a quarter gram or half gram on average, yielding 30 minutes to an hour of effect if hits are taken every few minutes. After the $20 or $40 mark, crack and powder cocaine are sold in grams or fractions of ounces. Many inner-city addicts with a regular dealer will “work a corner,” taking money from anyone who wants crack, making a buy from the dealer, then delivering part of the product while keeping some for themselves. This term can also be used for the dealer themselves, as that is the corner that one dealer might work for himself, and this contributes to gang and drug releated shootings.
At the intermediate level, crack cocaine is sold either by weight in ounces, referred to by terms such as "eight-ball" (one-eighth of an ounce) or "quarter" and "half" respectively. In the alternate, $20 pieces of crack cocaine are aggregated in units of "fifty pack" and "hundred pack", referring to the number of pieces. At this level, the wholesale price is approximately half the street sale price.
Crack cocaine was extremely popular in the mid- and late 1980s in a period known as the Crack Epidemic, especially in inner cities, though its popularity declined through the 1990s in the United States. There were major anti-drug campaigns launched in the U.S. to try and cull its popularity, the most popular being a series of ads featuring the slogan "The Thrill Can Kill". 1 However, there has been an increase in popularity within Canada in the recent years, where it has been estimated that the drug has become a multi-billion dollar 'industry'. Due to its popularity, there are many different street names for crack cocaine.
Although consisting of the same active drug as powder cocaine, crack cocaine in the United States is seen as a drug primarily by and for the inner-city poor; the stereotypical "crack head" is a poor, urban, usually homeless person of color. While insufflated powder cocaine has an associated glamour attributed to its popularity among mostly middle and upper class whites (as well as musicians and entertainers), crack is perceived as a skid row drug of squalor and desperation. The U.S. federal trafficking penalties deal far more harshly towards crack when compared to powdered cocaine. Possession of five grams of crack (or over 500 grams of powder) carries a minimum sentence of five years imprisonment.
Meathods of Use
Snorting is the most common method of ingestion of recreational powder cocaine in the Western world. Contrary to widespread belief, cocaine is not actually inhaled using this method; rather the drug coats and is absorbed through the mucous membranes lining the sinuses. When insufflating cocaine, absorption through the nasal membranes is approximately 30-60 percent, with higher doses leading to increased absorption efficiency. Any material not directly absorbed through the mucous membranes is collected in mucus and swallowed (this "drip" is considered pleasant by some and unpleasant by others). In a study of cocaine users, the average time taken to reach peak subjective effects was 14.6 minutes. Chronic use results in ongoing rhinitis and necrosis of the nasal membranes. Many users report a burning sensation in the nares (nostrils) after cocaine's anasthetic effects wear off. Any damage to the inside of the nose is because cocaine highly constricts blood vessels— and therefore blood & oxygen/nutrient flow— to that area. If this restriction of adequate blood supply is bad enough and, especially prolonged enough, the tissue there can die.
Prior to insufflation, cocaine powder must be divided into very fine particles. Cocaine of high purity breaks into fine dust very easily, except when it is moist (not well stored) and forms “chunks,” which reduce the efficiency of nasal absorption.
Rolled up banknotes (traditionally a high-denomination one as extra status symbol), hollowed-out pens, cut straws, pointed ends of keys, and specialized spoons are often used to insufflate cocaine. Such devices are often referred to as "tooters" by users. The cocaine typically is poured onto a flat, hard surface (such as a mirror) and divided into "lines" (usually with a razor blade, credit card or driver's license card), which are then insufflated. The amount of cocaine in a line varies widely from person to person and occasion to occasion (the purity of the cocaine is also a factor), but one line is generally considered to be a single dose and is typically 35mg-100mg. However, as tolerance builds rapidly in the short-term (hours), many lines are often snorted to produce greater effects.
Drug injection provides the highest blood levels of drug in the shortest amount of time. Upon injection, cocaine reaches the brain in a matter of seconds, and the exhilarating rush that follows can be so intense that it induces some users to vomit uncontrollably. In a study of cocaine users, the average time taken to reach peak subjective effects was 3.1 minutes. The euphoria passes quickly. Aside from the toxic effects of cocaine, there is also danger of circulatory emboli from the insoluble substances that may be used to cut the drug. There is also a risk of serious infection associated with the use of contaminated needles.
An injected mixture of cocaine and heroin, known as “speedball” or “moonrock”, is a particularly popular and dangerous combination, as the converse effects of the drugs actually complement each other, but may also mask the symptoms of an overdose. It has been responsible for numerous deaths, particularly in and around Los Angeles, including celebrities such as John Belushi, Chris Farley, Layne Staley and River Phoenix. Experimentally, cocaine injections can be delivered to animals such as fruit flies in order to study the mechanisms of cocaine addiction.
Smoking freebase or crack cocaine is most often accomplished using a pipe made from a small glass tube about one quarter-inch (about 6 mm) in diameter and on the average, four inches long. These are sometimes called "stems", "horns", "blasters" and "straight shooters," readily available in convenience stores or smoke shops. They will sometimes contain a small paper flower and are promoted as a romantic gift. Buyers usually ask for a "rose" or a "flower." An alternate method is to use a small length of a radio antenna or similar metal tube. To avoid burning the user’s fingers and lips on the metal pipe, a small piece of paper or cardboard (such as a piece torn from a matchbook cover) is wrapped around one end of the pipe and held in place with either a rubber band or a piece of adhesive tape. A popular (usually pejorative) term for crack pipes is "glass dick."
A small piece (approximately one inch) of heavy steel or copper scouring pad — often called a "brillo" or "chore", from the scouring pads of the same name — is placed into one end of the tube and carefully packed down to approximately three-quarter inch. Prior to insertion, the "brillo" is burnt off, to remove any oily coatings that may be present. It then serves as a reduction base and flow modulator in which the "rock" can melt and boil to vapor.
The "rock" is placed at the end of the pipe closest to the filter and the other end of the pipe is placed in the mouth. A flame from a cigarette lighter or handheld torch is then held under the rock. As the rock is heated, it melts and burns away to vapor, which the user inhales as smoke. The effects, felt almost immediately after smoking, are very intense and do not last long — usually five to fifteen minutes. In a study of cocaine users, the average time taken to reach peak subjective effects was 1.4 minutes. Most users will want more after this time, especially frequent users. "Crack houses" depend on these cravings by providing users a place to smoke, and a ready supply of small bags for sale.
A heavily used crackpipe tends to fracture at the end from overheating with the flame used to heat the crack as the user attempts to inhale every bit of the drug on the metal wool filter. The end is often broken further as the user "pushes" the pipe. "Pushing" is a technique used to partially recover crack that hardens on the inside wall of the pipe as the pipe cools. The user pushes the metal wool filter through the pipe from one end to the other to collect the build-up inside the pipe, which is a very pure and potent form of the base. The ends of the pipe can be broken by the object used to push the filter, frequently a small screwdriver or stiff piece of wire. The user will often remove the most jagged edges and continue using the pipe until it becomes so short that it burns the lips and fingers. To continue using the pipe, the user will sometimes wrap a small piece of paper or cardboard around one end and hold it in place with a rubber band or adhesive tape. Of course, not all people who smoke crack cocaine will let it get that short, and will get a new or different pipe. The tell-tale signs of a used crack pipe are a glass tube with burn marks at one or both ends and a clump of metal wool inside. The language used to refer to the paraphernalia and practices of smoking cocaine vary tremendously across regions of the United States, as do the packaging methods utilized in the street level sale.
When smoked, cocaine is sometimes combined with other drugs, such as cannabis; often rolled into a joint or blunt. This combination is known as "primo", "chevy", "hype", "shake and bake",a "turbo" "SnowCaps", "B-151er", a "cocoapuff", a "dirty", a "Silly stick", a "woo", or "geeking." Crack smokers who are being drug tested may also make their "primo" with cigarette tobacco instead of cannabis, since a crack smoker can test clean within two to three days of use, if only urine (and not hair) is being tested.
Powder cocaine is sometimes smoked, but it is inefficient as the heat involved destroys much of the chemical. One way of smoking powder is to put a "bump" into the end of an unlit cigarette(a.k.a a 'jimmy'), smoking it in one go as the user lights the cigarette normally.
Cocaine can also be taken by oral methods. One method of achieving a cocaine high is to rub the powder along the gum line, which renders the gums and teeth numb: hence the colloquial name of "numbies" or a "freeze" for this type of administration. This is commonly done with the small amounts of cocaine remaining on a surface after insufflation. Another oral method is to wrap up some cocaine in rolling paper and swallow it. This is called a "speed bomb".
Because of the extensive processing it undergoes during preparation and its highly addictive nature, cocaine is generally treated as a 'hard drug', with severe penalties for possession and trafficking. Demand remains high, and consequently black market cocaine is quite expensive. Unprocessed cocaine, such as coca leaves, is occasionally bought and sold, but this is exceedingly rare as it is much easier and more profitable to conceal and smuggle it in powdered form.
As of 1999, Colombia was the world's leading producer of cocaine. Three-quarters of the world's annual yield of cocaine was produced there, both from cocaine base imported from Peru (primarily the Huallaga Valley) and Bolivia, and from locally grown coca. There was a 28 percent increase from the amount of potentially harvestable coca plants which were grown in Colombia in 1998. This, combined with crop reductions in Bolivia and Peru, made Colombia the nation with the largest area of coca under cultivation. Coca is grown for traditional purposes by indigenous communities, a use which is still present and is permitted by Colombian laws, but that only makes up a small fragment of total coca production, most of which is used for the illegal drug trade. Attempts to eradicate coca fields through the use of defoliants have devastated part of the farming economy in some coca growing regions of Colombia, and strains appear to have been developed that are more resistant or immune to their use. Whether these strains are natural mutations or the product of human tampering is unclear. These strains have also shown to be more potent than those previously grown, increasing profits for the drug cartels responsible for the exporting of cocaine. The cultivation of coca has become an attractive, and in some cases even necessary, economic decision on the part of many growers due to the combination of several factors, including the persistence of worldwide demand, the lack of other employment alternatives, the lower profitability of alternative crops in official crop substitution programs, the eradication-related damages to non-drug farms, and the spread of new strains of the coca plant.
Organized criminal gangs operating on a large scale dominate the cocaine trade. Most cocaine is grown and processed in South America, particularly in Colombia and Peru, and smuggled into the United States and Europe, where it is sold at huge markups.
Cocaine shipments from South America transported through Mexico or Central America are generally moved over land or by air to staging sites in northern Mexico. The cocaine is then broken down into smaller loads for smuggling across the U.S.–Mexico border. The primary cocaine importation points in the United States are in Arizona, southern California, southern Florida, and Texas. Typically, land vehicles are driven across the U.S.-Mexico border.
Cocaine is also carried in small, concealed, kilogram quantities across the border by couriers known as “mules” (or “burros”), who cross a border either legally, e.g. through a port or airport, or illegally through undesignated points along the border. The drugs may be strapped to the waist or legs or hidden in bags, or hidden in the body. If the mule gets through without being caught, the gangs will reap most of the profits. If he or she is caught however, gangs will sever all links and the mule will usually stand trial for trafficking by him- or herself.
Cocaine traffickers from Colombia, and recently Mexico, have also established a labyrinth of smuggling routes throughout the Caribbean, the Bahama Island chain, and South Florida. They often hire traffickers from Mexico or the Dominican Republic to transport the drug. The traffickers use a variety of smuggling techniques to transfer their drug to U.S. markets. These include airdrops of 500–700 kg in the Bahama Islands or off the coast of Puerto Rico, mid-ocean boat-to-boat transfers of 500–2,000 kg, and the commercial shipment of tonnes of cocaine through the port of Miami.
Bulk cargo ships are also used to smuggle cocaine to staging sites in the western Caribbean–Gulf of Mexico area. These vessels are typically 150–250 foot (50–80 m) coastal freighters that carry an average cocaine load of approximately 2.5 tonnes. Commercial fishing vessels are also used for smuggling operations. In areas with a high volume of recreational traffic, smugglers use the same types of vessels, such as go-fast boats, as those used by the local populations.
Traffickers have also started using a method whereby a substance such as iron thiocyanate, a mixture of cobalt and ferric chloride, or a mixture of charcoal and iron filings is added to cocaine hydrochloride to produce “black cocaine.” The cocaine in this substance is not detected by standard chemical tests such as the Becton Dickinson test kit. The substance was first identified after a seizure in March 1998 in Germany, which was then tracked back to discover 250 lb of black cocaine ready for transport at Bogotá’s airport.
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