Cracker by Damian Christie


Psst... buddy... got any BZP?

I can’t remember if I’d told this story before, but if I can’t remember telling it, you probably can’t remember reading it, so we’re sweet. And it’s timely enough to bear repeating.

I was in a taxi from Auckland airport to TVNZ’s Death Star on Hobson Street. The taxi driver was an older (say late 50s, early 60s), gentleman driving for a very respectable firm.

As we got into the CBD, we drove past a big billboard for some BZP packed preparation.

“So…” he starts up, “…these ‘party pills’…”

“Yyyyyes?” I answer hesitantly.

“What are they like?”

So I launch into a description of sorts, struggling to put it in terms the old fella will understand. “Well – apparently – they make your heart race, keep you awake, umm… give you energy, can make you feel a bit warm and fuzzy… umm…”

“Right…” he says, mulling over what I’ve told him. “….so are they anything like E? Because those are great!”

I have a hard time believing Matt Bowden, the man with the vested interest from the snake-oil salesman sounding ‘Social Tonics’ Association. (“Care for a Refreshing Social Tonic ma’am? It cures what ails ya!”) I have a hard time believing him full stop, but even more so when he claims that banning party pills will only drive them underground. Unless he’s planning on doing it himself, that is.

(If it's any consolation, I should point out I also don't believe the authorities when they tell us people have started injecting party pills... and it's even less credible when the MSM reporting this 'alarming new trend' continue to refer to them as 'herbal highs').

Party pills are already quite pricey for what they are. If the BZP black market operates like any other black market in existence, ever, the product will be sold at a higher price than it was if it was being sold legitimately. Presuming that the street price of Ecstasy remains static, won’t users prefer to go for the real thing rather than the now-illegal fake version of the thing they only bought because it was slightly cheaper and easier to find (but in most other respects inferior) than the thing that it was a simulacrum of?

I don’t think banning every product necessarily creates a black market for that product. That product has to continue to be desirable now it's illegal, and also has to be more desirable than the other illegal alternatives out there.

I don’t see people loitering around carparks to buy asbestos for their ceilings, or looking shifty in alleyways searching for thalidomide for their morning sickness, nor I suspect, will they keep buying cattle drench in capsule form for their Saturday night’s fever once the shops go. But I reserve the right to be completely wrong, who can tell with kids these days?

Me, I’m back on the whiskey. And I’ve decided to stop arguing against the prohibition of various substances on the basis that it’s hypocritical compared with the fact alcohol does so much harm to so many. Because one day Jim might listen, and take my bottle away from me too.

PS: My first ever article for Metro is out in this month’s issue, and I’m quite chuffed with it, if I say so myself, but also thanks to the great photos they commissioned for it. It’s called ‘Capital Punishment’ and it details my (often not flattering) JAFA thoughts on this past year spent as an exile on Cuba Street. Please read.

Oh, and check out this entry for the 48 hours. It’s not mine, but it’s by a bunch of my friends down here, it made the Wellington final, and hey, it's a way to waste some time on a Friday.

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