"Curtis May field ... lecorded no less than four songs which mentioned the drug [cocaine]», the hit 'Super-fly' being one of them."
Richard Ashley Cocaine, 1975
Snob value goes a long way in explaining ihe prices. Cocaine is not, as you might expect, an expensive drug to manufacture. Depending on ihe buyer's discount, legal (pharmaceutical) cocaine costs from $19 to $31 an ounce. And though the $2,000 its illicit, counterpart fetches is partly attributable to inflation, black-market price gouging, and an influx into the market of buyers with more money than sense, these don't provide a complete explanation. What is missing is the simple fact that anything capable of giving the ego satisfactions once reserved for emperors can always bring whatever price the market will bear.
The cocaine that permits such heady satisfactions is imported chiefly from Peru, Bolivia and Colombia. About 300 kilograms are manufactured legally in this country each year, but very little of it is diverted to the illicit, market; even the total amount would be an insignificant addition, since 20,000 kilograms (by conservative estimate) are smuggled into the United States annually. The coca leaves are usually reduced to crude cocaine near the growing areas in huge vats holding from to 15 tons of leaves. Depending on their cocaine content, a ton of leaves will yield from 20 to 30 pounds of 50-percent cocaine paste. The paste, or crude cocaine, can be smoked, but since it doesn't readily dissolve in water and can't pass through the mucous membranes and into the bloodstream, it isn't a very saleable retail commodity. The final product, cocaine hydrochloiide, is refined from the paste in laboratories located in the growing countries and in Chile, Ecuador, Argentina and Mexico. There is also reason to believe that some big American dealers are importing paste and doing their own refining.
When cocaine precipitates from the refining solution, it tends to cake as it dries, forming rock cocaine: It generally runs between 80- and 85-percent pure and is, in its powdered form, the cocaine most frequently seen in America. Flake cocaine, a finer product, is the result; of cleaning
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