A quick phone call to arrange an order, a brief rendezvous in a shop where they greet each other like friends, followed by casual yet concealed exchange of drugs for money.
Dealing carries stiffer penalties than possession
So goes a common scenario for people buying drugs from a dealer to use out clubbing, at parties, at home with their friends.
If caught with drugs by police, there is a big difference between being charged with possession and being charged with supply.
The former can mean up to seven years in jail if convicted but the maximum sentence for supplying Class A drugs is life.
At present, there is no threshold for how much constitutes supply and how much could be for personal use, but that will change as part of the government's crackdown on drugs.
Under changes in the Drugs Act 2005, people caught by police with a certain quantity of drugs - the exact amount is yet to be decided - will be automatically presumed to be supplying, rather than the lesser charge of possession.
The threat of life imprisonment is intended to act as a deterrent for those glibly continuing to buy drugs for themselves and their friends.
Buying for friends
For those who consider themselves recreational drug users, getting a few pills or an gram of coke often involves asking a mate, rather than approaching a dealer themselves.
"If we're all going out partying together, it doesn't make sense for each of us to sort ourselves out individually," says Jonathan, who frequently gets ecstasy and cocaine for himself and a couple of his friends.
Jonathan started buying drugs from a dealer about four years ago, a step up from buying from friends, and usually spends about £350 per deal - cocaine being £50 a wrap and pills £3 each.
DRUGS ACT 2005
Creates new presumption of intent to supply if found to be in possession of a certain quantity of controlled drugs
"Certain quantity" not yet decided
Pressure groups worried it will shift burden of proof to defence
"Because the dealer operates close to where I work, it makes sense for me to do it.
"I have a number of friends who, while they enjoy taking drugs occasionally, aren't keen on meeting a dealer, and so I can bridge that gap for them."
By doing this, in the eyes of the law he is already a supplier, but independent drugs charity DrugScope said he may be under the illusion that he is not.
"Because people buying for friends don't consider themselves to be dealers, they are often unaware of the risk, but under current law they could still be charged," said spokeswoman Petra Maxwell.
With an estimated million people between the ages of 16 and 59 admitting to having used Class A drugs in the previous year, according to the British Crime Survey 2003/04, that could be a lot of unwitting suppliers walking round.
Furthermore, the Drugs Act 2005 states that "if it is proved that the accused had an amount of a controlled drug in his possession which is not less than the prescribed amount, the court or jury must assume that he had the drug in his possession with the intent to supply".
The Home Office said the "prescribed amount" was still to be set, with consultation planned to begin by the end of 2005, and a final consideration by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.
The council includes experts from various organisations, including police, toxicologists and education experts.
"It's something of a logistical and practical nightmare in defining the threshold - it's difficult to draw the line between personal use and supply," said Ms Maxwell.
She highlighted the situation in Portugal where possession is decriminalised, but dealers have cunningly started carrying amounts just below the quantity that qualifies as supply.
'Burden of proof'
Drug campaign organisation Release said the changes in the Drugs Act 2005 relating to supply were "unnecessary and unworkable".
Under the Act, says Release, the burden of proof will shift from the prosecution to the defence - a situation that the pressure group believes should be considered in the context of the Human Rights Act which enshrines a person's right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The complex calculation of how much could be used for supply also depends on the facts of individual cases and expert advice, Release said.
"The process of arriving at a formula for this, in relation to a huge range of substances and widely varying patterns of use, seems an impossibly unscientific task."
Jonathan says he is aware of the risks of buying drugs, and has on occasion called off a meeting with his dealer because he feels something is amiss.
"I always feel that what I'm doing is risky, and I'm aware there is a chance of us being caught. There's an enormous sense of relief when the deal is done and I am out of the area."
The government is hoping the increased punishment will deter him even further.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received:
I often buy cannabis in a fairly large quantity either a half or an ounce as it's better value for money and lasts me a fair amount of time it also saves me the hassle of having to get it as often. I'm sure this quantity is far above the amount that is regarded as personal use and many of my friends do the same. If there is to be regulated amounts set for personal use and supply, the government will have to do a significant amount of research as to buying habits of users as apposed to the amount carried by suppliers, I don't think that it will be an easy job for them at all.
By finding themselves facing lengthy prison sentences, I hope that recreational drug users will realise the world they get themselves into by buying these drugs from illicit dealers. I have no sympathy and have seen people imprisoned for this offence many times in my work and many times have seen the wreckage of a life destroyed by drug abuse. It is the PR triumph from the drug barons that people see their drug habits as socially acceptable and defensible
Rachel , UK
I think one way to combat the drugs problem would be to have a public 'drug users register'. This would effectively name and shame people and I'm sure a vast number of current users would stop if they thought their lives could be ruined by a few grams of cocaine!!
Ben Balcombe, UK
Did I not just read that our prisons were already at maximum capacity? This is just political mind washing, it will appear that we're cleaning up society, but in actual fact we're locking up the average Joe who works Monday to Friday 9-5 and wants to enjoy their hard work, by sharing a line or 2 with some close friends at the weekend.
What a fantastic way to criminalise and stigmatise a large percentage of people who hold down good jobs have families and contribute usefully to society. What the government seem to have missed is the fact that people will still continue to use drugs recreationally as they have done in all societies across all cultures for 100's of years. This law will only mean smaller quantities will be bought, ultimately meaning the main 'dealers' make more money as incentives to buy in quantity won't outweigh the possibility of a criminal record.
This is a complete nightmare for recreational users... paranoia is bad enough when you're wasted you don't need this hanging over you too. Thanks for that.
I can't understand why there is such a disparity in the sentences between those who deal alcohol and those who deal other intoxicating substances. That is, the sentence for dealing the highly destructive solvent alcohol receive no sentence whatsoever. Large sentences are never a deterrent to what the state deems to be crimes. All it does is ruin the lives of people who are functioning perfectly normally and fill up our jails with innocent people.
It is ridiculous that the government spends all this money on pointless new legislation that continues the war on drugs (that has so far just resulted in increased criminal activity and drug addiction). When are they going to do something productive with our taxes?
Helen Thompson, England
It will get to the point where passing a joint to someone will be classed as supplying.
In Malaysia "Jonathan" would be hung for what he does. 7 years seems mild in comparison. The proposed changes make perfect sense to me- the fact that some of his friends don't want to meet a dealer means that they probably wouldn't be using the drugs without his "help". By any definition "Jonathan" is a dealer & should be treated as such.
What nonsense, apart from the fact that a lot of the time when you buy for your friends you will still be under the threshold for dealing, what is the government trying to do? Stimulate the economy by making people use public transport or buy more petrol to make all these individual trips?
It's about time people were punished accordingly for supplying their "friends" with drugs. It's difficult to call people like these "friends" because they are responsible for a lot of people's misery. I had a friend once who was a lovely girl, but after she started taking Ecstasy she became, lazy, argumentative and unreasonable - she has no soul left.
Hamish Jordan, London, UK
People don't understand what consuming class A drugs really means "it's just a bit of fun with friends" - they are just worried about the last few hours of those grams. But what is never addressed is all the blood and tears coming from the country I was born, they don't know that from every gram they consume and buy "for friends" there is a family destroyed on the other side of the world. A fight between drug cartels and guerrilla that would not exist if countries like the UK didn't have the drug users. There is no production of goods no one buys.
Maria Davis, UK
Doesn't everyone know that increased penalties will only make the problem worse? Just compare USA with Holland if you don't yet understand.
Bill Squire, Netherlands
I fail to see why four people each individually visiting a drug dealer is any different to one person collecting four peoples drugs at once?
The entire discussion always has to loop back to the point that keeping drugs illegal is failing and we should be investing our time + money in understanding, researching and treating the problems associated with drug use.
If you remove the illegal status of drugs you remove the criminals. We do not want an epidemic of drugs in this country but already have one. Instead of pretending that it is a 'war' that can be won, simply accept that drugs will always be here and use common sense.
I am sick of no tax revenue being derived from this massive industry while spending my taxes funding a pointless crusade against it.
Why not remove the need for an arbitrary minimum and make all possession a serious criminal offence with the possibility of a long sentence, particularly if it is a second offence. That will make it really difficult for people to offer it about casually, as they did openly when I was at University.
The laws should be there to get Big Time dealers and those that push to kids not the average user who is just picking up the odd thing for a mate. There needs to be more clarity on how much of each drug constitutes personal or supply as this is a grey area!!
Surely we shouldn't be too worried about setting the limit for personal use too low. This law could be a strong tool to reduce drug use among addicts, by making them take the risk of making a purchase more often in order to maintain the same level of use, or take lower/less regular doses to avoid this risk. The way I see it, any incentive to reduce drug use is beneficial. Also, if users and suppliers have to meet more often, it should make them easier to catch, which can also only be a good thing.
Maybe the government should do random drugs tests on MP's and their staff before they try and tackle Joe Public. Most people know that there is a drug taking problem so how better to win public support than by showing us that they are tackling their own first?