Size doesn't matter

felix's picture

I am not sure exactly what prompted me to write this article. Perhaps Bek's recent death, which was so closely allied to the concept of inability to measure small amounts of fentanyl. But regardless of recent deaths, in an industry that is centred around the concept of weights and measures, in my using life I have had innumerable discussions with others around the idea of 'size'. I'd like to outlay the two major conclusions I have come to over the last 25 years of buying gear.

1. Size does not matter.

To expand on this - I have been with people who will buy a 'quarter weight' from a dealer somewhere. They will not immediately use the gear, instead they will drive home to where they have a trusted set of scales (by trusted, I mean that they have been able to measure some known unit of weight, such as a coin, and they have obtained the expected weight), and they will carefully weigh up the powder.

If they have asked for a quarter weight, and the scales say 0.25gm, then all is good. Gear is consumed, and as long as there is some fairly close alliance between the expected effect and the actual effect, this is the end of the story. The user will buy again from the same dealer.

If the user gets home and the powder weighs 0.16gm, then a call is placed to the dealer, along the lines of 'You ripped me off 0.09gams' or 'You owe me 0.09gm' or 'Give me my money back'. You can probably imagine a couple of other variations.

Now, a dealer is in the business of buying in bulk, dividing up the product with enough of a mark up to enable themselves to keep a percentage of the gear for self-consumption. Of course there are the exceedingly rare dealers (either 'cured' junkies or on massive doses of methadone) who will not be retaining any powder for themselves, but instead want to turn an $900 eightball into $1500 of packets, and therefore remove the usual societal requirement for a 38 hour working week to meet subsistence level standards. I have met exactly two dealers, out of a pool of over fifty, who are non-using. One supported a heavy gambling habit with his dealing (stories of six gambling dealers sitting around a pack of cards, using ounces of gear as their chips - but that's another tale), the other had ended up sitting on Blockade, a term used for the top methadone dose legally prescribable at the time. This dose rendered any shot of gear under $1000 worth pointless. I like to believe he worked in the odd shot after ceasing doses for a few days, but I have no evidence.

So the dealer has to sell a certain amount to cover costs of the product and their own usage margin. Which means the size of packets sold is fixed, and varies only in accordance with the 'usage margin' - usually in a negative fashion as the dealer's habit increases. Those of you with access to Excel or even just a pen and paper and a mind - you can work out that as the usage margin is relatively steady (let's give it a CPI increase over time - but my point is that the more packets they sell, technically the larger they can make each packet, as the fixed amount of their own usage is being taken out a larger number of packets - so you are deducting 1 gram from 10 packets at first (100 mgs 'tax' per packet sold), then 1 gram is being taken out of 50 packets (just 20 mg per packet).

So a telephone call from a customer demanding an increase in size from 0.16gm to 0.25gm just doesn't fit in with the mathematics. The dealer cannot afford to give out 0.25mg per 'quarter' - that would cut into their personal tax taken for their own usage.

So what choice does the dealer have? As sales increase they could return the increased profit by increasing individual packet size, but here's the irony - selling more packets means you are out in public a lot more, you are executing an increased number of illegal transactions - you are increasing your likelihood of arrest. What methodology does the average dealer employ to cope with the stress of impending arrest and withdrawal/imprisonment? Increase usage.

As sales increase, so does personal usage. So the increased return per packet is not as fast as one may expect.

Now we still have this upset junkie on the telephone, saying all sorts of stupid things they shouldn't be saying on your phone. What to do?

This is where phrases and practices like 'cutting' or 'dilution' come into play.

The dealer still gives customers 0.16mg of (I won't say gear, it's really probably only half gear and half already-cut powder) let's say 'existing product' and they start adding 0.09 mg of some (hopefully) harmless chemical that is both water soluble and bears a passing resemblance to their existing product. In the early 90s it was glucose, now it's some relative of MSG...MSM I believe. I am sure there is someone out there who can correct me.

Demanding an 'on weight' packet in street deals is not a productive approach. It doesn't 'keep them honest' and apart from the rare occasion when a dealer makes an actual mistake and gives you a fifty instead of a century, there is not much to be achieved from the practice of counting on a certain weight.

Terms like 'quarter weight', half-weight' and even 'half-balls' and 'balls' are more in the realm of marketing phrasing rather than true indications of a weight.

ut it this way - would you rather get 50mg of 100% pure gear for $100, or 250mg of 10% pure for the same cost? This is where point two comes in

2. Bang for buck

For me, this is the only measure of quality, short of deploying a mass spectrometer of chromatograph that will tell you the exact composition of what you have bought.

Bang for buck is not an easy thing to measure, and hence me keeping track of my usage visa this website.

It will not be the same thing for different people. Some people are all about the 'legs' - how long a shot works. If you're a shift worker who needs to cover eight hours of boring office drudgery, and you cannot afford getting twitchy legs and a runny nose an hour before you knock off, then this may be the only measure for you.

If you are well off and are heavily into the aesthetics of using, then it may be all about the rush...those first few minutes post shot.

Others are like wine connoisseurs - it's all about taste.

Others want a great nod.

So, work out what it is you want out of a packet, and find a way to rate it..maybe it's the hours you nod for. Maybe it's how long it takes before you need another shot. Maybe it's whether that taste hit you in the back of the nasal passages an instant after plunging.

Who knows? But know your measurement, and assign it a numerical value. Track this per usage, and take into account the knock on effect - the fact that the second shot is going to have a much lesser impact than the first.

I'd like to hear your comments on how you determine if you're being ripped off or if you have a dealer you trust. And let me know if you think I am wrong, if you have a reason for trusting the scales above all else.