Drug dealers are purposefully being sent to jail to make a greater profit from selling their wares.
A study published in The International Journal of Drug Policy reports that a gram of synthetic cannabinoids – such as Spice or Mamba – costs just £3 outside of prison but is worth £100 when sold behind bars.
Prisoners told researchers they can earn £3,000 in a month selling an ounce (28 grams) of Spice – that’s 33 times what they’d earn on the streets, reports the Huffington Post.
The report quoted anecdotal evidence from a prison recover worker who said:
I’d definitely say people [who] are coming in on [license] recalls to prison and short sentences [are bringing in Spice and Mamba] just to make some money and go back out.
The lads [prisoners] will tell you themselves, ‘I’m going to come back in. I’m going to go out, get some Spice and Mamba and then I’m going to come back in and I’m going sell it and make thousands of pounds’.
Another inmate who uses Spice daily, told researchers:
I’d not go [to my] probation [appointment] and come in and get paid £1,000 for coming in, you know what I mean, you get paid £1,000 for coming in full of Mamba for 2 week…
I’d probably come back if someone offered me £1,000, if I needed it, that’s a down payment for a house that, you know what I mean? You don’t get that off no one else for cheap, unless I go out robbing, you know what I mean?
It would be the safest fucking way coming back in here, just passing it on and think ‘Right, well I’ve been paid, two weeks and I’ll go home’. Madness!
Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Manchester Metropolitan University and the lead researcher conducting the report, Dr Rob Ralphs, said:
It is no exaggeration to say that the synthetic cannabinoid market has exploded and unleashed a series of devastating impacts on prisons, prisoners and prison staff.
Traditional drugs have almost been wiped out and replaced with these extremely powerful synthetic cannabinoids because prisoners are attracted by high profit margins and their lack of detection in drug tests.
Worryingly, the surge in Spice use in prisons has been connected to the soaring death rates behind bars.
Harmful side effects include extreme violence, psychosis, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
Spice has been compared to heroine in terms of its potency and consequences.
— Prison Reform Trust (@PRTuk) December 8, 2016
The traditional contraband market for other drugs such as heroin and cannabis has ‘almost been wiped out’ by Spice.
The researchers have credited this rise to the fact that the substance doesn’t show up in drug tests.
For those who choose less extreme measures to smuggle the substance into prisons, Spice can be transported behind bars using drones and even by spraying a liquid version of the substance on children’s drawings.