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Crack as Currency

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It’s an odd situation when an illegal substance becomes so common it’s considered “coin of the realm” and might be used as a way to barter for goods. Two stories in Florida recently show just how strange things can get.

The first is a gentleman who tried to pay his water bill with crack. The unidentified man had crack cocaine in the payment envelope when he dropped it off at the Delfina Water office. The man, who is still at large, didn’t stick around to talk to anyone at the counter, and as of last week, police were still looking for him, using the video from a surveillance camera at the location. The office was evacuated when the envelope was seen to contain a white powdery substance.

In the second case, according to the West Palm Beach Police blotter, a man attempted to purchase crack from an undercover officer – by using his food stamp card. The man wanted $75 of the drug and gave the police officer his EBT card and PIN for the purchase.

What a strange world we live in, when illegal drugs are simply part of the background scenery, and, at least to the people mentioned, nothing to be ashamed of or hidden. Is there an underground economy where drugs can be exchanged as simply as when the rest of us swipe a credit card?

These incidents are still newsworthy, but it is likely that such transactions happen all the time in the drug using community. It is, after all, basic economics – supply and demand. I have something of value and you have something I want. So what if the “something of value” is crack cocaine?

EBT fraud has made the news before. In at least one instance, drug users turned in their benefit cards to get into a crack house. While they were there using, the dealers would go to the grocery store and run up purchases on the cards.


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