How dealers are using a menu of emojis to sell drugs to first-year university students and launching ‘marketing’ campaigns handing out lighters with their phone numbers on at freshers’ weeks
- Horse emoji is signal for party drug ketamine, while a test tube emoji means LSD
Drug dealers are using emoji-laden delivery menus to entice first-year university students, an investigation has found.
Common symbols include a horse to represent Class B drug ketamine and a test tube emoji for hallucinogenic LSD. Meanwhile, a dolphin next to the ‘heart on fire’ emoji is a signal for ecstasy.
Freshers are being approached by ‘a lot of dealers going “if you need something at any point, here’s my number”,’ an investigation by The Times found.
They are given a lighter with a number on it, which if they text it, will show a takeaway-style drugs menu with promises of fast deliveries.
One fresher told the publication: ‘They [the dealers] are all quite young, they are pretty lax. They are pretty blunt about it, the ones that have approached me.
Drug dealers are using emoji-laden delivery menus to entice fresh faced university students
‘Everyone I know has been given a lighter with a number on it by a dealer so it’s quite good marketing.’
Other well known emoji signals include a snowflake with a snowman to represent cocaine and a top hat for premium hash.
The Netherlands flag emoji stands for Amsterdam flowers, the mushroom emoji is the secret signal for magic mushrooms and the ‘dash’ emoji – which looks like a gust of air – is THC vapes.
‘Model pupil’ Jeni Larmour, 18, died in her student halls within hours of being dropped off for her first night at university in Newcastle in October 2020
An inquest into Ms Larmour’s death was adjourned in November 2020 until the conclusion of a criminal investigation into the incident
Within just four text messages, a transaction can be arranged and drugs on their way to university accommodation, it has been claimed.
There are also special offers being sent, with one text message promoting a ‘Friday menu’ and ‘deals available’.
A few days later, the reporter was sent a ‘new bud menu’, with emojis for the different types of cannabis available, including a fruit, gorilla and dog to signal what varieties were on offer.
It comes after Universities UK – which represents 140 universities – launched a taskforce to explore a new approach which moves away from disciplinary sanctions for drug possession, instead prioritising ‘harm reduction’.
A spokesperson for Universities UK said: ‘The taskforce’s report, due to be published in June, will not be condoning the use of drugs or supporting decriminalisation, but will be developing a proactive and consistent approach to student safety and health.
Physics student Daniel Mervis, 23, (pictured) from Finchley in north London, died in October 2019
Daniel (pictured), a vegan champion weightlifter, was a passionate animal lover and described by friends as the ‘smartest, kindest person’
‘Our priority is to see students succeed as drug use can harm their wellbeing, education and future careers.’
It comes after a number of students died while taking drugs at university.
An inquest heard that Jeni Larmour, 18, of Newtownhamilton, County Armagh, died from the combined effects of alcohol and ketamine just hours after arriving at Newcastle University in October 2020.
She had been in the company of her new student halls flatmate Kavir Kalliecharan, then 18 and from Leeds, who told the Newcastle inquest the drugs were Jeni’s and she suggested taking them, cutting the ketamine into lines.
Her family vowed to leave ‘no stone unturned’ in their efforts to get answers about the ‘articulate and accomplished’ architecture student’s death.
Daniel Mervis, 23, from Finchley in north London, died in October 2019, after a ‘battle with drug misuse that began whilst studying at Oxford’s St John’s College’.
A coroner called for Oxford University to overhaul its drugs policy after the death of the gifted physics student from an overdose.
Daniel, a vegan champion weightlifter who posted on social media regularly about his diet and routines, was a passionate animal lover and described by friends as the ‘smartest, kindest person’.
A Newcastle University spokesperson said: ‘We are not a drug-tolerant University: in line with other universities, we take a harm reduction approach with our new Student Drug Policy approved in 2021.
‘Whenever we become aware that students are in possession of, or use, drugs, action is always taken.
‘This action is proportionate and along a spectrum from support, safeguarding, informing police, disciplinary action, up to expulsion from accommodation and/ or the university and criminal prosecution.’
Oxford University has been contacted for comment.
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