With my new book, Pills, Powder and Smoke: Inside the Bloody War on Drugs, just out in the UK, I’ve been getting some media coverage around the issue of “woke coke” or ethically-sourced cocaine. For the record, in my book I don’t mention “woke coke” but focus on how and why all drugs should be legalised and regulated.
Here’s me interviewed in yesterday’s Sunday Times:
Dealers are targeting middle-aged, middle-class drug users with “woke coke” marketed as “ethically sourced” and “conflict-free”.
The suppliers are trying to gain a commercial edge in a competitive marketplace by appealing to increasingly “woke” customers who are sensitive to injustice in society.
The dark web is a fast-growing marketplace for cocaine, with dealers relying on TripAdvisor-style ratings and many emphasising their ethical credentials.
Britain is one of the world’s cocaine capitals. Bristol has the highest rate of consumption per person in Europe, and London gets through the largest amount — 23kg a day, according to King’s College London.
Users can get cocaine delivered more quickly in England and Scotland than a takeaway pizza, according to the most recent Global Drug Survey. More than a third of users surveyed said they could get the drug within half an hour, compared with fewer than 20% who could get a pizza delivered in that time.
Antony Loewenstein, whose new book Pills, Powder and Smoke details the changing demographic of cocaine users, said: “Dealers [on the dark web] are promoting and selling ethically sourced cocaine. It means everybody in the supply chain, from the farmers in Colombia to drug mules in Europe, are treated fairly, given a decent wage and not prosecuted for their activities.”
He said the fact that it was “impossible” to know if a drug has been ethically sourced did not deter dealers from making the claims or users seeking them out.
The UK Sun, the biggest paper in the country, then published a story today around my quotes:
Drug dealers are targeting users with a social conscience by offering ethically sourced cocaine — dubbed “woke coke”.
They hope to corner the middle-class market by appealing to customers sensitive to injustices.
The dealers use the dark web to sell the Class A drug — relying on TripAdvisor-style ratings. Antony Loewenstein, whose new book Pills, Powder and Smoke exposes the trend, said: “Dealers promote and sell ethically sourced cocaine.
“Everybody in the supply chain — from the farmers in Colombia to drug mules in Europe — is treated fairly, given a decent wage and not prosecuted for their activities.”
He said the fact it was impossible to know if a drug truly had been “ethically sourced” did not stop dealers from making the claims or users buying it.
Britain is one of the world’s major destinations for cocaine.
A study by King’s College London suggests Bristol is the city with the highest rate of consumption per person in Europe — while London gets through the largest amount at 23kg a day.
And British users can get cocaine delivered more quickly than a takeaway pizza, according to the most recent Global Drug Survey.
A third of users surveyed said they could get the drug within half an hour.
Reading these quotes a reader would get the impression that I’m arguing “woke coke” is the beginning and end of this story but in reality it misses the whole point. Yes, some people want to live ethically and take drugs without harming others, and some savvy drug dealers are tapping into this, but the only way to truly achieve ethically-sourced drugs is to legalise and regulate all drugs (and even then, a society can never reduce all harms associated with drugs and the trade around it).
UPDATE: The Daily Mail has also published the same quotes about “woke coke” and the writer of the story just ripped off my comments for The Sunday Times without attribution:The rise of ‘woke coke’: Drug dealers are targeting middle-aged, middle-class users | Daily Mail Onl