16 November 2006

Off the Grass and on the Glass

How Police and Home Office Strategy is increasing cannabis risks to young people

The ongoing police Operation Keymer has seen availability of homegrown cannabis drop to an unheard-of low. And there is growing evidence that this reduction in availability has meant new and potentially dangerous adulterants being used to bulk out dwindling stocks of herbal cannabis.

Cannabis users on UKCIA, and other young people are reporting cannabis being adulterated with bulking agents to either make low grade cannabis look like THC-rich skunk, or alternatively to increase weight.

Adulterants have included relatively low risk substances like sugar solution, or sand. But recent reports suggest an increased use of adulterants such as water-retention polymers - which may take the form of small yellow beads or (more frequently) white crystals.

Most worryingly, some users are reporting cannabis is being coated with ground glass, or sprayed with glass fibre. At this point, such rumours are apocryphal and cannot be substantiated. But there is good evidence that cannabis stocks are dropping in qualiy, prices are going up, and remaining stocks are being more widely adulterated.

Neither the Police nor Frank have raised awareness of these problems, leaving young people at high risk.

We would suggest the following harm reduction advice:

crunch test: if it's crunchy it's got adulterants such as sand or glass in it: put a small bit between teeth; if it's crunch spit it out;
rub test: rub a bit between fingers; if it's got a gritty feel - it's adulterated;
best thing to do, probably chuck it but as this isn't likely for most young people, we need to look at other strategies such as:

use in a water pipe
use pipes with screens
use a filter in place of a roach

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