Cut-price ecstasy flooding market

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The Independent Online
A cut-price version of ecstasy is among three new drugs to have hit the festival and dance markets causing concern that greater numbers of young people will be tempted to experiment with illegal substances.

The new drug, known as 2CB, costs as little as pounds 3 for a four-hour "trip" - a quarter of the price of ecstasy. Drug workers have also reported an influx of "bliss" and DMT, or "businessman's lunch".

2CB will be of greatest concern because of its low cost and the fact that drug users are taking it as an alternative or additional stimulant to ecstasy. The use of the latter has caused great controversy following a small number of high-profile deaths, such as that of Leah Betts, who died in 1995 after taking it at her 18th birthday. Although its popularity has waned in the past few years, up to 500,000 doses are still consumed every weekend.

2CB, also known as "nexus", "spectrum" or "bromo", is related to ecstasy and is becoming increasingly popular at festivals and outdoor raves. Costing pounds 3 or pounds 4 the hallucinogen, which is usually a white or pink tablet, heightens the user's visual imagery, body awareness and tactile sensitivity. It is often sold at raves in "party packs" with a ecstasy tablet. Taken half an hour after the ecstasy the 2CB gives extra hallucinogenic effects.

The side-effects of this new drug are unknown but there are fears of could long-term psychological damage. It is believed to be made in Britain, although most of it is almost certainly brought over from Europe.

Gary Woolvett, drugs worker for the national drug and legal help line Release, said: "We have seen a gradual increase in the use of 2CB ... particularly at festivals and outside events rather than in clubs."

Another newcomer on the drugs market is the ultra-strong DMT, which stands for dimethyltriptamine. It is a naturally occurring component of several plants found in the West Indies and South America, and has been used in snuff by South American Indians for centuries.

The modern DMT is chemically manufactured and costs pounds 15 for a wrap. The powder is usually smoked with tobacco and has an immediate effect, increasing the heart rate and blood pressure. The powerful hallucinogenic effects last for about 30 minutes - hence its street name "businessman's lunch". The side effects include anxiety, panic and psychological problems.

The third substance is bliss, a form of the hallucinogenic LSD. It costs about pounds 3 for a tab, which is usually impregnated on blotting paper, and the effects last for four to eight hours. Drug agencies have noted its availability in Brighton and Bristol in the past six months. The side- effects are unknown.

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