But End Up With Meow Meow Or Crystal Meth
It’s A Dangerous Scam, unhealthy And It’s Happening Here
You might ask, order what’s the difference? A drug is a drug, and whether it’s cocaine, ecstasy, crystal meth or meow meow should matter not.
It turns out that not all drugs are created equal. Some are more addictive than others. Some are cheap and some are costly. And some are the object of a widespread scam happening under our noses (no pun intended) right here in Goa.
The criminals who sell drugs are an unscrupulous bunch even when they’re not ripping off customers with fake substances. According to law enforcement officials and current and former users, a significant number of drug dealers in Goa are tricking customers into believing they are buying cocaine or MDMA (aka ecstasy) when in fact what they’re getting is mephedrone (aka meow meow) and methamphetamine hydrochloride (aka crystal meth). The latter two drugs are far less expensive and far more addictive than the former two.
It’s not something many people like to talk about. But Goa and drugs go back a long time, starting with the hippies’ full-moon parties in the 60s when drugs were shared openly among free-spirited revelers. In recent times, the trade has taken on more ominous hues, with local and foreign mafias plying drugs to both Goans and visitors to Goa, with their attendant doses of violence, overdoses and destroyed lives.
“In Goa, it was a different vibe. It was all about the music and togetherness, which is also why drugs were hardly sold, but shared for free during the hippie days here,” says a member of the old Goan hippie bunch who asked that his name not be used in this story about drugs. “But this was not interpreted in the same spirit as things got commercial during the nineties and the newer generations came into the scene. The focus post 2000, when MDMA flooded Goa through the Russians, shifted more to drug intake and less on the music. Suddenly we had a drug market.”
Not long ago, a popular veteran psy trance DJ expressed his frustration on social media over young people’s propensity to focus more on drugs than music.
“It’s sad to see the youngsters do so much powder these days and getting mindlessly high,” he wrote.
Two officials from the Narcotic Department, S P Vijay Singh and O P Mishra, confirmed that, aside from marijuana and hashish, the drugs most often sold in Goa these days are the powders, given the high profit margins from adulteration and false claims. Years ago, the officials said, cocaine and hashish (aka charas) comprised the largest seizures in the state.
“Looking at drug abuse from the route of administration, between the intravenous users, the chasers (substances mixed into drugs to stretch the amount and make more money), and the snorters, there is a recent rise in the category of snorters,” explains Rajesh Dhume, head of a rehabilitation centre at Mapusa.
Added Narcotic Superintendent Police Karthik Kashyap’s, “All drugs can be adulterated and new users will never know what the substance they are doing actually is.” He cautioned experimenters as well as those already hooked. The widespread presence of cheap substitutes like mephedrone and methamphetamine is creating a great many addicts.
There is a growing demand for designer drugs, especially among young domestic tourists flocking to Goa from the cities. “In cities, drug intake is naturally more confined to rooms and indoors, given the crowded space and population,” says Justin, a former meow meow addict.
A source from the Mumbai police department explained how in his city, too, meow meow, or mephedrone, is “sold as MDMA or cocaine which also come in powder form and are generally snorted up the nose for immediate effects.”
Mephedrone was only classified as illegal in 2013 by the Mumbai police, who labelled it an ‘epidemic’ after seeing the devastating effects it had on youngsters within a span of about two years of it gaining popularity in Indian cities.
Cocaine and MDMA are generally too pricey for most young Indians to afford, ranging from Rs. 3000 to Rs. 8000 per gram. Justin said dealers offered him what he thought was a hefty discount for what he thought was cocaine. “Like a fool, I paid Rs 2000 per gram without bargaining at all …The real price was about 100 rupees,” a now clean Justin says about the meow meow he ended up consuming.
In Goa, inaccurate news reports likened meow meow to MDMA, making it easier for peddlers to pawn off substances that should have gone for Rs 50 to Rs 300 per gram at much higher prices, thereby increasing their profits, power and ability to spread addiction.
“To say thatmephedrone is a variant of MDMA is absolutely incorrect,” states Dr. M Shashi Menon, chief doctor for the Kripa Foundation in India. “Even if methamphetamine, MDMA and mephedrone come from the family of amphetamines ‘broadly’, they are distinctly different substances.”
“Although users report that mephedrone produces similar psychoactive effects to MDMA, these two drugs produce different changes in the brain, and the adverse effects they produce, particularly when ingested with other drugs, will therefore be different,” said Professor Richard Green, a Trustee at the British Pharmacological Society, in a statement. His review, published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, found mephedrone to be more addictive than MDMA.
One inexperienced user identified the similarities between cocaine and meow meow thusly: “It’s more like cocaine, just that it burns one’s nose way more after it has been snorted.” The truth is the two drugs have little in common, with cocaine coming from coca leaves and having nothing to do with the family of amphetamines.
Cheap thrills, it turns out, can be especially perilous.