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Illinois Drug Threat Assessment Update
May 2002


Marijuana is the most widely available and commonly abused illicit drug in Illinois. According to the Illinois Department of Human Services, Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse, treatment admissions for marijuana/hashish abuse increased steadily over the past 3 years from 18,842 in FY1999 to 20,773 in FY2000, and then to 25,622 in FY2001. (See Table 1 in Cocaine section.) According to DAWN ED data, the number of marijuana-related ED mentions increased from 4,555 in 1999 to 5,398 in 2000. (See Table 2 in Cocaine section.) In that year Chicago had the fourth highest number of marijuana-related mentions per 100,000 population (89) of the 21 metropolitan areas reporting to DAWN.

Marijuana is readily available throughout Illinois. The dominant type of marijuana available in the state is produced in Mexico. According to DEA, in Chicago Mexican marijuana sold for $900 to $1,200 per pound, $50 to $75 per ounce, and $3 to $5 per gram in the first quarter of FY2002. In Rockford Mexican marijuana sold for $600 to $900 per pound; in Springfield, it sold for $800 to $1,000 per pound. Ounce and gram prices are not available.

Marijuana produced locally by independent dealers also is available. Cannabis is cultivated throughout Illinois at outdoor and indoor grow sites. Outdoor grow sites are located on public or private land and are generally concealed among vegetation or inside fenced yards. Indoor grows often are located in residential basements and have intricate lighting systems to stimulate plant growth. According to the DEA Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program, 25,685 outdoor-cultivated plants were eradicated in 1999 and 14,409 in 2000. Further, 1,335 indoor-cultivated plants were eradicated in 1999 and 3,273 in 2000.

Mexican DTOs and criminal groups supply most of the marijuana available in Illinois. They transport the marijuana in bulk quantities from Mexico through southwestern states using commercial vehicles. The marijuana often is intermingled with legitimate cargo such as produce.

Mexican DTOs and criminal groups generally supply marijuana to midlevel dealers who distribute the drug in Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and other states. Midlevel dealers typically are lower level Mexican criminal groups. Midlevel dealers usually distribute marijuana to Chicago-based street gangs that sell the marijuana on street corners or in low-income housing developments. However, some retail sales are prearranged using cellular telephones or pagers and occur in private residences or vehicles.

Local independent dealers control the wholesale and retail distribution of locally produced marijuana in the state. Sales usually occur at private residences, bars, or at other prearranged locations.


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