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Police fight ‘death marijuana’ distribution

Hydro, more potent and more expensive than regular grass, is sold mostly to the affluent, but police fear rise in violence, crime if youth start using
Raanan Ben-Zur

Israel Police have waged a war on the distribution of Hydro, a more potent and more expensive type of marijuana that is sweeping the local drug market.

Dubbed by police as “death grass,” Hydro goes for about NIS 500 (USD 110) per 10 grams (0.35 ounces), compared with regular marijuana which is sold for NIS 600 (USD 133) per kilo.
The high price of Hydro is mainly due to the high cost of growing it and the high demand. It is grown in regular homes that are rented out for thousands of dollars a month; police have discovered four such ‘hothouses’ in recent months: Two in Netanya, one in Kadima and another in Moshav Yanuv.

Hydro lab (Photo: Israel Police)

Hydroponics is a method of growing where the plants are grown in water and are routinely flushed with nutrients; the special equipment can cost thousands of shekels.
People who have used Hydro said the drug has a hallucinatory effect.
“If in regular grass the active ingredient is 13 percent, in Hydro it is five or six times more,” senior police official Yaron Ahrak said.
“The drug is distributed mostly among the affluent, who can afford it. The drug’s effects are lethal. All we need now is that the youth will get a hold of it.”
Police fear Hydro will spark a revolution in the drug market and an increase in drug-related violence.
'Harsh measures must be taken against growers'

“The drug may cause a rise in violence among users and among its distributors. If the youth will start using Hydro we will see a rise in violence and in criminal activity, because the users will seek ways to finance their consumption,” Ahrak said.

“If someone is in a depressed state he or she may have depressing hallucinations after using the drug; this can lead to severe situations that may end in tragedy. Hydro also has more severe medical implications – from higher blood pressure to kidney damage and even impotence.”
Despite its potency, Hydro is considered a light drug, and courts tend to sentence according to the amount of drug that was seized.
“The law must be changed immediately,” Ahrak said. “Hydro cannot be dealt with as though it is regular grass. Harsh measures must be taken against growers, dealers and users.”

Attorney Revital Svid said the courts cannot differentiate between Hydro and regular grass users, because Hydro is a type of marijuana.
“Its just like you can’t differentiate between someone who stole a Mercedes and someone who stole a Volkswagen "beetle,” she said.
(05.23.06, 00:40)