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National Drug Intelligence Center
Delaware Drug Threat Assessment
Marijuana is the most readily available, widely abused, and least expensive illicit drug in Delaware. However, the drug poses a lower threat than heroin or cocaine in part because its distribution and abuse are not commonly associated with violent crime. Reported rates of marijuana abuse among high school students in Delaware are high and increasing. Jamaican criminal groups are the dominant transporters and wholesale and retail distributors of Mexico-produced marijuana and marijuana produced by Mexican criminal groups based in Arizona, California, and Texas. They commonly transport marijuana to Delaware using package delivery services and couriers. Local independent Caucasian and African American dealers and Hispanic street gangs distribute wholesale and retail quantities of marijuana in Delaware. Locally grown cannabis is increasingly available but remains less prevalent.
Marijuana is the most widely abused drug in Delaware, and its abuse is increasing. According to state treatment data, the number of marijuana-related treatment admissions to publicly funded facilities increased over 211 percent from 334 in 1995 to 1,039 in 2000. (See Table 2 in Overview section.) Sixty-three percent of them were ages 15 to 25.
The rate of marijuana abuse, particularly among teenagers and young adults, is high and has increased significantly in Delaware. According to a University of Delaware study, rates of reported lifetime, past year, and past month marijuana abuse by students in Delaware are highest in New Castle County. The reported rate of marijuana abuse among high school students (Grades 7-12) in Delaware was significantly higher than the national average in 1999. Twenty-five percent of eighth graders and 43 percent of eleventh graders surveyed reported they had abused marijuana at least once in the past year, compared with 15 percent of eighth graders and 35 percent of eleventh graders surveyed nationwide in 1999. The percentage of eighth and eleventh grade students surveyed in Delaware reporting regular (once a month or more) marijuana abuse increased dramatically between 1990 and 1999. Reported abuse among eighth graders increased from 3 to 16 percent and among eleventh graders from 12 to 28 percent. More than 25 percent of high school students surveyed in Delaware in 1999 reported having abused marijuana in the past year, while 16 percent reported having abused marijuana in the past month. The Milford Police Department reported an increase in the number of marijuana abusers in Sussex County.
Marijuana is the most readily available drug in Delaware. According to FDSS data, marijuana was the drug most commonly seized in FY1999. However, the amount of marijuana seized in Delaware remained at low levels from FY1995 through FY2000. (See Table 3 in Overview section.)
Marijuana is the least expensive illegal drug in the state. Low prices indicate that marijuana is readily available. The average price per pound of marijuana in Delaware was $1,160 in 2001. The average price for an ounce of marijuana in Delaware was $260 in 2001. The price per one-eighth of an ounce of marijuana ranged from $40 to $50 in 2001.
Marijuana-related federal sentences in Delaware are rare. The number of marijuana-related federal sentences were stable at low levels from FY1998 through FY2000. According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, Delaware had no marijuana-related federal sentences in FY1998, four in FY1999, and three in FY2000.
There is very little violence associated with the distribution and abuse of marijuana in Delaware. Marijuana abusers generally are nonviolent. The effects of the drug often depend upon abuser expectations and physiology and on the amount of the drug taken. While low doses of marijuana tend to induce relaxation, high doses may cause image distortions, loss of personal identity, and hallucinations--possibly resulting in violent behavior. Marijuana occasionally is laced with other drugs, including PCP (phencyclidine). Adulterants substantially alter the effects and toxicity of the product, making it more likely that an abuser will become violent.
Most of the marijuana distributed in Delaware is produced in Mexico or in California, Arizona, and Texas by Mexican criminal groups. Cannabis also is grown indoors and outdoors in the state but to a lesser extent. Law enforcement officials in southern Delaware report that local independent Caucasian dealers in Dover and Milford cultivate small quantities of cannabis in their cornfields or in their basements and closets.
The amount of cannabis cultivated indoors in Delaware is increasing. The average number of cannabis plants eradicated per indoor grow in Delaware increased from 13 in 1997 to 64 in 2000. Despite this increase, in 2000 Delaware ranked forty-first in the nation in the number of indoor and outdoor cannabis plots and plants eradicated.
Jamaican criminal groups are the primary transporters of marijuana to Delaware. Local independent Caucasian and African American dealers also transport marijuana into the state. These groups and dealers usually transport wholesale quantities of marijuana from southwestern states to Delaware using package delivery services and couriers, according to DEA. In August 2000 federal, state, and local law enforcement officials dismantled a Jamaican criminal group that, beginning in January 1997, had transported 200 to 250 pounds of marijuana a month from Arizona to Delaware using couriers on commercial aircraft. The couriers concealed marijuana in suitcases, flew to Baltimore-Washington International Airport, and transported the marijuana by van from the airport to Dover for distribution. Local independent Caucasian and African American dealers also transport wholesale quantities of marijuana hidden in private vehicles en route from Philadelphia, New York City, Washington, D.C., and other cities along I-95 and US 13 and 113, according to Delaware law enforcement officials.
Jamaican criminal groups are the primary wholesale and retail distributors of marijuana in Delaware, particularly in New Castle County. Jamaican criminal groups in Wilmington distribute wholesale quantities of Mexico-produced marijuana and marijuana produced by Mexican criminal groups in southwestern states, according to state and local law enforcement officials. These criminal groups occasionally distribute multipound quantities of marijuana to local independent Caucasian and African American dealers who travel from smaller towns such as Bethany Beach, Clayton, Dewey Beach, Milford, and Smyrna. Local independent Caucasian and African American dealers and Hispanic street gangs also distribute wholesale and retail quantities of marijuana. Local independent Caucasian dealers in Dover and Milford cultivate small quantities of cannabis in their cornfields or in their basements and closets and distribute it locally.
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