Methamphetamine, also called methylamphetamine, is a synthetic stimulant drug that is sold under various street names including speed, base, meth, ice, crystal or crystal meth, amphetamines, whiz and goey.

There are four recognised ways of marketing methamphetamine at a street level. Firstly there is powder, a white or off-white powder generally known as speed, typically of low purity (about 5-20 percent). The powder form of methamphetamine is usually adulterated with glucose.

The second form is base, a damp or oily substance with a white to yellow or brown colour with a higher purity than powder (typically about 40 percent).

It can vary a lot in its appearance and is known by a range of terms, including pure, paste, and wax. This form is typically injected and sometimes swallowed. Base is sold in points, which weigh about 0.1 grams.

Currently the most popular form is ice, also known as crystal meth, which is methamphetamine in its purest form (as much as 80-90 percent). It has a translucent to white crystalline appearance, and is typically sold in points (0.1 grams).

Methamphetamine can also be sold in pill form on the ecstasy market. These pills contain only a small dose of methamphetamine, which is often combined with ketamine to give an ecstasy-like effect.

In the UK, crystal is about to be officially ranked as a class A drug following warnings from senior police that it could become mainstream in that country within the next two to three years.

Although the regular use of the drug has, until now, been confined to small sections of the gay club scene, a fall in prices has led to it being sold to mainstream clubbers as a drug that costs about the same as crack cocaine, but lasts much longer.

The class A listing means police will target meth abuse and illicit laboratories. At present, its class B status means it is not the subject of any targeted law enforcement activity.

Even though there is this new concern, data from the 2005 national gay men’s sex survey confirms people are using crystal but it is still a minority activity, with less than three percent of respondents saying they had used the drug in the previous year.

The World Health Organisation has estimated that there are 35 million people around the world who use methamphetamine and its derivatives.

As a result of this, police interest in methamphetamine around the world has increased greatly in recent times. In Sydney we have seen increasing numbers of people charged with methamphetamine production or importation of its precursor chemicals.

Even this week we saw four people charged after more than two million tablets containing pseudoephedrine were found in a container-load of wooden furniture shipped from Jakarta to Sydney.

One of the most important things to remember about illegal drugs is that they are illicit -“ if you are caught with them, there are serious consequences.

Remember: if you do not want any negative consequences, do not use the drug and, no matter how many times you have used a substance, never be blas?/p>

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