Pills are getting stronger, and last week three 12-year-olds were hospitalised in Greater Manchester after reportedly taking ecstasy “teddy tablets”.
The incident triggered a police investigation as to how the children got hold of the pills, and unfortunately for our country’s youth, a government advisor has found that dealers might be enticing them by peddling child-friendly pills.
Fiona Measham, professor of Criminology at Durham University, founder of drug-testing charity The Loop and member of the government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (AMCD) described the pills that she came across during testing at Parklife earlier this month. She told the Guardian that around half of those tested featured “youth-oriented” designs.
“I tested 30 different types of pills... in terms of the design they fell into broadly two categories,” she explained. “One, what I’d call ‘luxury goods’. So, Louis Vuitton, Rolls-Royce, Rolex and things like that. The others had children and youth-oriented designs: we saw pills with Darth Vader on them, R2D2, Mickey Mouse, as well as these teddy pills, in both pink and yellow, which are actually shaped like teddy bears.”
Despite the childish nature of the designs, Measham was doubtful that drug manufacturers were deliberately sending children “into a web of drug addiction” – and instead blamed the rise on a growing penchant for the ‘retro-kitsch’ look. She also warned users to be cautious over the high content of MDMA held in some of the designs; referencing the particularly strong (and potentially lethal) “Mastercard” pills.
“People just don’t know what they are buying,” she added. “I’d liken it to buying alcohol and not knowing if you are going to get bitter shandy or whisky.”