Breaking bad in Tehran: how Iran got a taste for crystal meth

“What economic crisis? Business is good,” Bijan winks as he flashes his big, gap-toothed smile.

Bijan is a cook and dealer of sheesheh – crystal meth – which has exploded on the Iranian drug market and, for the first time, overtaken heroin to become the country’s second most popular drug (opium still tops the list). Meth production in the country has been expanding at an astonishing rate. According to a 2013 study by the United Nations Office onDrugs and Crime, the Iranian government first reported manufacture of the drug just six years ago, when four production facilities were seized. By 2012, though, Iran was the world’sfourth highest importer of pseudoephedrine, the main precursor chemical used in the production of crystal meth. Research carried out by the State Welfare Organisation shows that over half a million Tehranis between the ages of 15 and 45 have used it at least once.

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