Cocaine, perhaps one of the most sinister street drugs out there, is readily available to just about anyone with the right connections. Most people know someone, or knows of someone, who has been addicted to this drug. Some, sadly, lose the ever-lasting battle of sobriety, while others manage to cut it from their lives. What makes this white, powdery substance so dangerous, so addictive?
Derived from the South American coca plant, cocaine is a versatile drug. It can be smoked, snorted, injected or even dropped into the tear ducts. It is mid-range in price, averaging about $80-$120 CAN per gram. Cocaine is an alkaloid that stimulates the central nervous system, hence the jittery behavior of many cocaine users.
Cocaine is made when the leaves of a coca plant are crushed up and mixed with a particular solvent such as alcohol, gasoline or kerosene which separates the drug from the leaves. The liquid created from this procedure contains unpurified cocaine alkaloids. Once the liquid is removed by a specific procedure involving acids and a few basic mixtures, the alkaloids are then treated with kerosene.
Once the kerosene is removed from the treatment tank, the cocaine appears in the form of crude gas crystals. The crystals are then dissolved in methyl alcohol. The procedure of re-crystallizing and de-crystallizing is repeated with sulfuric acid, and the result is 60% proof cocaine. This means the drug is 60% pure. At this point, the drug is consumable by free-basting and is very similar to crack.
In order to finish the processing and create a higher purity cocaine in the form of white powder, the cocaine needs to be converted into a salt. The fine, white powder we so often see on television shows like Californication is known as cocaine hydrochloride. This makes it water-soluble, and means that once it is consumed into the blood stream it will dissolve better than freebase cocaine will, lessening the risk of blockages in blood vessels.
Every step in the preparation of cocaine hydrochloride is daunting and dangerous. The person involved in the preparation process finds himself exposed to very dangerous, unstable chemicals and one wrong equation could be devastating. Worse yet is the fact that these steps must be repeated several times over in order to purify the drug to street-quality of 85% proof or higher.
By washing, oxidizing and separating the drug several more times from the derivatives, the drug becomes water soluble just like table salt. It nearly disappears in liquid, and this is one of the reasons that cocaine is removed from the body so quickly (after only three days of no use, there are no traces of cocaine in a user's blood) Once all is said and done, a white odourless powder is produced and is ready for sale.