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Pennsylvania Drug Threat Assessment
June 2001


In 2001, cocaine, particularly crack, will remain the primary drug threat in Pennsylvania because of its low cost, high availability, and highly addictive nature. The state's cocaine market appears to be saturated, indicating the presence of a substantial number of chronic users. The demand for cocaine should remain strong.

Heroin abuse should continue to rise in Pennsylvania in 2001, and heroin could surpass cocaine as the state's primary drug threat given its extremely low price and high purity. Heroin markets are likely to continue expanding into suburbs and rural areas, and the number of new, young heroin users should continue to grow. Heroin distribution networks will continue to flourish as they expand to midsize cities, and potentially to smaller towns, where markets are less competitive and heroin can be sold for a higher price.

Marijuana will continue to be the drug of choice and the most widely available drug in the state in 2001. Marijuana cultivation, availability, and abuse are extensive in the state, and the market for this drug should remain strong given its widespread appeal and the high profits generated by its sale. However, the marijuana threat is likely to remain lower than that posed by heroin and cocaine because marijuana's detrimental effects on users and society are less pronounced. Indoor marijuana grows will likely increase in the state because they yield the more potent marijuana that most consumers want and are difficult for law enforcement to detect.

Abuse of methamphetamine, particularly high quality d-methamphetamine, is expected to increase in 2001. Laboratory operators will increasingly use the red phosphorus, Nazi, and cold cook methods to produce high-purity d-methamphetamine. As that trend continues, addiction rates could rise further. Methamphetamine-related violence, although currently limited, may increase as methamphetamine activity increases. Methamphetamine will increasingly be used at raves.

The abuse and availability of other dangerous drugs (ODDs), especially MDMA and GHB, will continue to pose new challenges to Pennsylvania law enforcement in 2001 as rave parties become more prevalent and new users are introduced to these drugs. As ODD abuse rises, the number of overdoses will continue to grow. The diversion and abuse of pharmaceuticals will remain serious problems in the state as well. The sale of diverted pharmaceuticals yields high profits, and the risk of getting caught is relatively low. The prevailing attitude that prescription drug abuse poses minimal risks will continue to make pharmaceutical diversion and abuse attractive to chronic and new users.


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