Have you ever found yourself anticipating a big night out, tasked with texting the dealer? The friend who usually does it is out of commission or maybe their dealer isn’t replying—so it’s up to you to text the guy’s number who’s been sitting in your phone for years, sending you the occasional drugs menu with a glorious list promoting Cali’s finest, or Columbia’s cleanest Cola. The only problem is, you’re utterly clueless on what to open with. Middle-class, suburban upbringing didn’t prepare you much for your future recreational drug use.
Well worry not, for SCREENSHOT has the dos and most hilarious don’ts for when it comes to texting your dealer—just in case.
Take a deep breath, and don’t panic. I know American TV has long sensationalised the drug deal, but trust me, nothing crazy is going to happen. You’re going to get into the car, exchange some awkward chat, swap cash for drugs, and go on your merry way. The hard part for so many, is getting them to show up in the first place.
Why put yourself at risk of sounding like an out of touch moron, or even worse, an undercover police officer? Listen to these awful police officers’ attempts at entrapping dealers, and let it be a warning to you to never press that record button:
Most dealers will be suspicious of a text out of the blue that doesn’t give any background context to who you are. They’re not looking for a 200-word essay either, just a “hey, I got your number from X” should suffice. From here they’ll either call you, or carry on correspondence over text. Read on if you’re still worried about how to act in front of your pusher.
I know it can seem tempting to try and sound relatable but overusing slang terms in the hopes of seeming “street smart” will just make you look like a narc, and a really bad one at that. Your dealer has done thousands of handovers with all sorts of people, from college students bunking their classes to grandmas with back pains. There’s no need to feel pressured to act a certain way, they don’t care. This stuff is just transactional.
Although this one will differ between dealers, generally you don’t want to send an overly complex or cryptic message. Most dealers will insist on texting you using encrypted messaging platforms like WhatsApp anyway so you shouldn’t be too worried about typing out what you ask for—and if you are getting paranoid about what you’ve put in a message to a dealer, maybe drugs aren’t for you. They don’t tend to help with paranoia, depending on which one you’re purchasing of course.
If a dealer is being coy about what they have, just use your brain. “White wine” and “Coca Cola ” is only ever going to mean one thing.
Although we wish it wasn’t like this, some dealers can often be an aloof and inexplicable bunch (we wonder why). Don’t expect timely delivery—this isn’t Uber Eats, it’s more of an Evri kinda thing. Some dealers will be at your door quickly, and not to encourage you to consume but the more you pick up, the more you’ll learn who’s reliable. What not to do though, is spam them with panicked calls and text messages if they’re running late.
For someone whose income is tax free, they really don’t care about missing the odd deal, and they’re more likely to drop to you later if you keep bugging them. Obviously, don’t let yourself be messed around, but know when to stop and find someone else. An unreliable dealer is never fun, but don’t start taking it out on them. There’s plenty more fish in the sea.
This should really go without saying, but most dealers are normal people, who, you know, deal drugs. Not being a dick goes a long way with literally anyone, and that same good behaviour should still be on display during your drug deal. No need to pretend to be a hard man—the dealer knows you’re not, and that’s okay.
Ok, don’t actually try this, the results will be less than satisfactory as the following screenshot will prove. Maybe one day we’ll be able to partake in stress-free drug deals as our AI assistants do all the nerve-racking texting for us. Although that day doesn’t seem like it’ll be here anytime soon:
There you have it, the dealer dos and don’ts. We all like to let loose on the weekend, so just remember to use your common sense when it comes to picking up, and also when it comes to what you actually do with the goods once you’ve got them. Be safe out there!
Earlier this year, the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust) released a report addressing the stark rise in the production of ‘synthetic drugs’ that poses legal challenges for prosecutors across Europe. Citing 562 cross-border drug trafficking cases handled by the agency alone, the report highlighted how synthetic and other designer drugs make up for almost one-third of the number. “This phenomenon has increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with organised crime groups (OCGs) adapting quickly to an online environment using secured communication channels, crypto-phones, cryptocurrencies and darknet markets,” the report continued.
In short, synthetic drugs are flooding the market even before governments can identify and outlaw them. With fatal overdoses from illicit tranquilisers jumping six-fold in the US over the pandemic, law enforcements around the world are presently on a quest to stay ahead of the curve and anticipate these drugs before they even hit the market. How? Enter AI in all of its harnessable glory, here to give cops a heads-up that could help shrink month-long drug investigations down to days.
Before we embark on the innovative road to faster and better drug discovery, however, let’s break down the concept of synthetic and designer drugs. Remember the time when people across the US were overdosing on bath salts in their hot tubs? Designer drugs refer to substances like bath salts and synthetic marijuana that are engineered in a laboratory to recreate the effects of traditional illicit drugs such as amphetamines, ecstasy, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), ketamine and more. Basically, if you peek behind the scenes of such drugs, you would see a bunch of underground chemists playing around with new molecules that emulate the psychoactive effects of conventional drugs.
This particular factor is what makes the substance practically undetectable by law authorities. “Because their chemical structures are different from the drugs they are intended to mimic, designer drugs frequently escape regulation, making them easier to obtain by users,” noted DrugAbuse.com, adding how they are often undetectable by screening tests at the same time. This not only fosters the concept of a ‘legal high’—where manufacturers technically can’t be prosecuted—but also opens up various possibilities for new synthetic drugs, presently limited only by our imagination.
Now, researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) are dedicated to tackling the issue head-on—with a little help from the space-age technology we currently call AI. In a study published in the online journal Nature Machine Intelligence, Doctor Michael Skinnider and his colleagues fed an AI model with a database of known psychoactive substances contributed by forensic laboratories around the world. With the aim of training the model on the structures of the drugs, the algorithm used was inspired by the structure and function of the human brain. Based on this training, the model then learned to predict 8.9 million potential designer drugs that could be developed and eventually hit the market.
Researchers then tested the AI against 196 new designer drugs that had emerged on the illicit market—while the model was being trained. We’re talking about drugs that the AI didn’t even know existed at the time. The result? The model had already predicted the emergence of more than 90 per cent of those drugs.
“The fact that we can predict what designer drugs are likely to emerge on the market before they actually appear is a bit like the 2002 sci-fi movie, Minority Report, where foreknowledge about criminal activities about to take place helped significantly reduce crime in a future world,” said senior author Doctor David Wishart, a professor of computing science at the University of Alberta. In a press release, he mentioned that the software essentially gives law enforcement agencies and public health programmes a head start on the “clandestine chemists” and lets them know what to be on the lookout for.
Now, one question remains. Is the model capable of identifying completely unknown substances from scratch, rather than predicting from a set of data? According to the researchers, the AI has also learned to predict the sort of molecules that are more likely to appear on the market. “We wondered whether we could use this probability to determine what an unknown drug is—based solely on its mass—which is easy for a chemist to measure for any pill or powder using mass spectrometry,” said Doctor Leonard Foster in the press release.
The researchers, hence, tested this hypothesis by leveraging the dataset of the 196 new synthetic drugs. Using only the mass, the model was able to list the chemical structures that landed in the top 10 most popular drugs with 72 per cent accuracy. Little tweaks and bits of chemical data further boosted this accuracy to 86 per cent. When it came to just one guess, the model could predict the correct structure 51 per cent of the time.
According to Doctor Skinnider, similar models could soon be used to discover all kinds of new molecules—from identifying new performance-enhancing drugs for athletic doping to previously unknown molecules in human blood and urine. “There is an entire world of chemical ‘dark matter’ just beyond our fingertips right now,” he concluded. “I think there is a huge opportunity for the right AI tools to shine a light on this unknown chemical world.”
With some authorities already expressing their interests in adopting and using the model as part of their investigation, one fact is out in the open: AI undoubtedly has the higher ground than governments across the world when it comes to keeping up with new drugs on the market. And the role of technology in drug discovery might just be starting to live up to its hype.