Claim: Drug dealers are selling flavored crystal methamphetamine known as "Strawberry Quick."
Example: [Collected via e-mail, April 2007]
Drug Warning - Beware and please inform your children
I have been alerted by one of our EMT's for our volunteer fire department that they have received emails from emergency responder organizations to be on the lookout for a new form of Crystalized Meth that is targeted at children and to be aware of this new form if called to an emergency involving a child that may have symptoms of drug induction or overdose.
They are calling this new form of meth "Strawberry Quick" and it looks like the "Pop Rocks" candy that sizzle in your mouth. In it's current form, it is dark pink in color and has a strawberry scent to it.
Please advise your children and their friends and other students not to accept candy from strangers as this is obviously an attempt to seduce children into drug use. They also need to be cautious in accepting candy from even friends that may have received it from someone else, thinking it is just candy.
Origins: This warning about sweetened and flavored forms of methamphetamine began landing in inboxes in April 2007. Unfortunately, there's a great deal to it: candied meth is the latest thing in street drugs, first reported as appearing in the western states in January 2007. ( Nevada holds the dubious honor of being the first state the substance was found in — its Department of Public Safety issued a bulletin about flavored meth seized during a 27 January 2007 search of a gang member's apartment in Carson City .)
The colored crystals have since spread across the nation. According to intelligence gathered by Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents from informants, users, local police, and drug counselors, flavored meth is available in California, Nevada, Washington, Idaho, Texas, New Mexico, Missouri, and Minnesota. Says DEA spokesman Steve Robertson, "Drug traffickers are trying to lure in new customers, no matter what their age, by making the meth seem less dangerous."
The e-mailed alert might lead you to believe you need only look out for "Strawberry quick" to keep your family safe. (The name is reminiscent of strawberry Quik, a powder used to make flavored milk drinks.) Yet that form of the drug is but one of many flavors in circulation: In addition to strawberry, crystal meth also comes in chocolate, peanut butter, cola, cherry, and orange versions. One DEA agent reported a red methamphetamine that had been marketed as a powdered form of an energy drink.
While it is not clear flavorings have been added for the express purpose of making the drug appeal to children (it seems more likely they were incorporated as a way of combating the substance's bitter taste), it is expected that "candied" versions of meth will nonetheless have that effect. Flavored meth has been described as resembling rock candy or Pop Rocks (a kid-favored confection that fizzles in the mouth). Because it looks, smells, and tastes like candy, flavored meth may fool children and teens into perceiving it as far less dangerous and addictive than it actually is. How can, after all, anything that looks that tasty and inviting be as evil as the grownups make it out to be? The new versions also present an Increased risk that children who happen upon stashes of the drug will mistake their finds for candy.
In April 2007, U.S. Senators Feinstein and Grassley introduced legislation aimed at increasing the criminal penalties for anyone who markets or makes candy-flavored drugs by imposing upon them the same enhanced criminal sentences handed down to drug dealers who knowingly sell to minors. The Saving Kids from Dangerous Drugs Act would alter federal law from its current state of requiring doubled (or tripled for a repeat offense) sentences for those caught selling illegal drugs to those under the age of 21 to imposing doubled or tripled sentences on anyone who "manufactures, creates, distributes, or possesses with intent to distribute a controlled substance that is flavored, colored, packaged or otherwise altered in a way that is designed to make it more appealing to a person under 21 years of age, or who attempts or conspires to do so." No longer would a dealer have to be caught red-handed in the act of selling to an under 21 for the doubled or tripled sentences to kick in; under the proposed refinement to current law, simply possessing flavored versions of street drugs would be enough. Also, by the lights of this rewriting of the law, manufacturers of flavored drugs would also be subject to doubled or tripled sentences.
There is one bit of good news in all this: Methamphetamine use is down for much of the country for the second year running. Researchers say it appears this latest meth epidemic reached its peak in 2004 and 2005, and data from the federal government shows the number of first-time meth users has steadily declined in recent years.
Let's hope that Strawberry Quick doesn't serve to reverse that trend.
Barbara "quick step backwards" Mikkelson
(National Institute on Drug Abuse)
Last updated: 30 April 2007
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