The anonymous, pre-stamped survey postcards that come with the kits still trickle in from time to time. Today, one arrived that was a little different. It wasn't from an individual user testing a little baggy—this person tested a larger quantity of cocaine. (A quarter kilo? Four kilos? Fourteen kilos?) It had all been cut with levamisole.
In a way, this is exactly what I'd hoped would happen—that levamisole and awareness of its potentially dangerous effects would first start to worry customers, who would then mention that to their dealers, who would pass the concern up the chain. Two years ago, almost nobody had heard of levamisole. Now, at least one person with quantity took the time to get a kit and test his/her product—and make a frowny-face emoticon because it tested positive.
That is a kind of small progress. Because as long as drug prohibition is the rule in the US, and no legal authority can help with realistic drug awareness and quality control, citizens will have to do it for themselves.
And to preempt the people-should-just-stop-using-drugs argument—go ask Nancy Reagan how much the US spent on its D.A.R.E. and "Just Say No" campaigns. Then ask her why we still have so many drug users, casual as well as hardcore, and so many prohibition-related harms that we all have to deal with, from crime to quality of life to burdens on our prison and health-care systems.
Just Say No just doesn't work.
* Levamisole is a de-worming drug for livestock that is being cut into the world's cocaine supply for reasons that are somewhere between mysterious and clear, and can cause a catastrophic crash of a person's immune system. It has made some users ill and some users dead. If you're curious about this, you can find a whole series of articles about it here.