Drug use in Scotland was in the spotlight as BBC Question Time came to Scotland.

The programme, broadcast from inside the Scottish Parliament on October 11, included Conservative MP Ross Thomson on the panel.

Ferret Fact Service | Scotlands impartial fact check project

During a debate on UK drug policy, he made a claim about the availability of cocaine to users in Glasgow.

It is quicker, online using an app, to order cocaine to your house than to order a pizza. If you’re in Glasgow you can get it delivered to your door quicker than a Dominos. Ross Thomson MP

Ferret Fact Service looked at this claim and found it to be Half True.


Cocaine use has increased significantly in recent years, making up 10 per cent of drug seizures in Scotland, according to the latest Scottish Government figures. The overall amount of cocaine has markedly increased since 2014/15, when 75.7kg was seized, to 2016/17, when more than 120kg was recovered by police.

Recent research has also found that Scots are likely to take more cocaine in a session than any other country. The Global Drugs Survey (GDS) 2018, which interviews 120,000 drug users across the globe, found 1.2g of cocaine was taken per session on average.

This is higher than the English figure of 0.7g, and the worldwide average of 0.5g. However experts, including Katie MacLeod of Scottish Drugs Forum, have suggested this may be a result of the low purity of cocaine found in Scotland.

Thomson’s claim was also a reference to the GDS, which also quizzed users on the length of time it takes to get cocaine in Glasgow.

Around 15,000 recreational cocaine users took part in the survey around the world. Of those in the Glasgow area, 36.67 per cent said they could get cocaine within a 30 minute period from ordering.

There is no direct comparison in the report with pizza delivery in Glasgow and no average time for pizza delivery quoted, so we cannot be sure exactly whether cocaine is delivered faster than pizza. The global results showed 30.3 per cent of users thought they could get cocaine within 30 minutes, while 16.5 per cent thought they could get a pizza delivered in the timeframe.

We found no evidence of a specific phone application that could be used to order cocaine, but it is unlikely that it would be widely used, as it would violate the terms and conditions of both Apple and Android app stores so would need to be downloaded manually.

Drug dealers make use of end-to-end encryption in messenger applications such as WhatsApp and Kik to make contact with buyers and arrange drug pick-ups. Facebook messenger has also been used to organise drug deals in Scotland.

Ferret Fact Service verdict: Half True

Ross Thomson’s claim that you can get cocaine in Glasgow faster than a takeaway pizza may be accurate in some cases. However, the report from which he is basing his claim does not say that cocaine is quicker to get than the fast-food staple, merely that 37 per cent of cocaine users can receive cocaine within 30 minutes of ordering.

This claim is half true.

Ferret Fact Service (FFS) is a non-partisan fact checker, working to the International Fact-Checking Network fact-checkers’ code of principles. All the sources used in our checks are publicly available and the FFS fact-checking methodology can be viewed here. Want to suggest a fact check? Email us at factcheck@theferret.scot or join our community forum.

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