So we've all heard our parents telling us that "if a stranger gives you drugs for free, don't be greedy and don't accept it". However, I've never seen this happen in real life yet. So do (or did) drug dealers give sample drugs for free to random teenagers? It doesn't seem to be a very viable marketing strategy, as apart from a few exceptions it is rare to be addicted to a drug on the first try. If it's not true, where did this idea come from?

  • 16
    "it is rare to be addicted on a drug on the first try." That may be, but couldn't it be viable in the same way as giving out a new type of candy for free, or a new coffee shop giving out free coffee on opening day: In the hopes that the people trying it like it, and might want to come buy another some time.
    – femtoRgon
    May 26, 2016 at 18:18
  • 2
    @matt_black - I felt the question provided an unsafe assumption (that such a practice would be intended to create addiction), so I forwarded another possibility. In no way have I provided any kind of answer to the question, speculative or otherwise. Is that inappropriate in some way?
    – femtoRgon
    May 27, 2016 at 0:38
  • 4
    @femtoRgon The issue here is not the logic of your question. You need to show that the question is notable. If you had a newspaper making the claim, that would be notable (and you could provide a link to prove it).
    – matt_black
    May 27, 2016 at 8:35
  • 4
    @matt_black That's why he just wrote it as a comment and not as an answer I suppose
    – J. Doe
    May 27, 2016 at 10:49
  • 2
    This article from Germany supports the claim: sueddeutsche.de/wirtschaft/…
    – Posipiet
    May 28, 2016 at 0:03

1 Answer 1


See Drug dealers give free samples to customers Baltimore Sun 9 March 1997:

If you think the videotaped evidence of the Sugar Hill gang's drug transactions was "astounding" (Feb. 25, "Brazen city 'drug store' "), then you had better steer clear of many Baltimore neighborhoods.

In my neighborhood there are astounding "drug stores" and astounding "drug parades." I invite you to visit my neighborhood to see the parade of people marching to pick up "testers," small glass vials containing free samples of crack cocaine thrown about by a new drug dealer in the area.

Oh, there will be about 150 to 200 people of all ages running through the neighborhood, jumping fences, running in front of cars, dragging along their children, trying to get "testers" from drug dealers looking for new business.

Case in point: One night after a long day of work, I drove up to my house. A massive crowd of people running. Being inquisitive, I walked toward the crowd thinking it was a parade of some sort.

Several of my neighbors were looking out their doors. They hollered to ask where I was going. I informed them that I was going to see the parade. One young lady pulled my arm and said, ''Miss, please don't go up there. You might get hurt.''

I said, "Why not? It's just a parade. See all the people."

They young lady went on to explain that a major drug transaction was about to occur and that people were trying to get "testers" from a new drug dealer.

Overwhelmed with depression, I hung my head and walked back to my house. I could not believe what I had witnessed. I can assure you that my story is one of many.

Later, at a community meeting, it was explained to me that there was a rash of new drug dealers in the area.

Those who live in drug-infested neighborhoods witness firsthand how customer-demand drives the drug problem. Any solution must deal with helping the pitiful human beings in all our neighborhoods who are medically addicted to drugs.

I fear, however, that nothing will be done until those unfamiliar with the problem are thoroughly exposed to the astounding "drug stores" and "drug parades" that so many of us encounter in our day-to-day lives.

J. Lydia Nwafor


More recently, see Cops: Dealer gave free heroin samples to undercover officers (May 2017, Philadelphia):

In epicenters of the heroin trade in Philadelphia — like Kensington and Allegheny Avenues, where this encounter occurred — some dealers hand out free sample bags of heroin to potential customers like they're pretzel bites or perfume.

"Unfortunately, it's not an uncommon occurrence that the dealers will occasionally give out samples to get the buyers to frequent them, especially if they have a new product out," Nestel said.

The two SEPTA officers were dressed in grungy clothes and had just gotten off at the Allegheny Station of the El when they were approached by Rivera around 10:30 a.m., Nestel said.

"The guy approaches them and says, 'Looks like you're looking for something. How about a sample?' " Nestel said. "He gives them each a sample and they arrest him." The samples, about the size of dime bags, field-tested positive for heroin, he said.

And more specifically concerning teenagers, see Drug Dealers’ Winning Strategy: Free Samples 27 July 2016:

In Edmonton, Alberta, three drug dealers were arrested after giving teens free samples of cocaine – with the dealers’ phone numbers on the bag.

and Men charged with handing out free cocaine samples 22 July 2014:

Three Edmonton-area men are facing drug trafficking charges. They are accused of offering free cocaine to kids. Fletcher Kent reports.

EDMONTON – Three men have been arrested for allegedly providing youth with free drug samples in Old Strathcona.

Three men are accused of offering young people free samples of base cocaine in packages that included their contact information, in case the youth wanted to buy drugs in the future.

The suspects allegedly handed out the drugs from a white Dodge Ram pick-up truck, while they were parked in Old Strathcona near 103 St. and 83 Ave.

Jesse Levesque, 22, Chris Hefford, 22, and Dan Friedrick, 25, have all been charged with trafficking, possession for the purpose and living off the proceeds of crime. Levesque and Hefford are from Edmonton, while Friedrick is from Spruce Grove.

  • Your first example feels rather weak to me. The testimony of someone who is not an expert and who is trying to sell papers and thus has incentive to exaggerate is not a strong source of evidence. You did later provide better proof, cited examples of specific instances where drug samples were provided, which is good. But I would generally lead with that better evidence and probably leave out the first example entirely.
    – dsollen
    Jun 15, 2017 at 17:24
  • @dsollen The first one is weak because it's just one citizen (J. Lydia Nwafor) saying this, but I don't think the citizen is profiting from her letter. I lived in Baltimore at the time she wrote the letter, and I think that even if she is exaggerating, some people in her neighborhood really were getting free samples.
    – DavePhD
    Jun 15, 2017 at 18:35

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .