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Kentucky Drug Threat Assessment
July 2002


The variety of illicit drugs produced, distributed, and abused in Kentucky has exceeded the resources of law enforcement officials. Abuse of certain types of drugs is so pervasive that effective law enforcement and prevention efforts prove extremely difficult.

The number of methamphetamine abusers receiving treatment in Kentucky will likely increase even more dramatically in the near future as more abusers begin to experience the negative effects of long-term methamphetamine abuse. Methamphetamine production will continue to spread from western areas of the state to eastern areas as demand increases and as law enforcement officials devote more resources to detecting and seizing methamphetamine laboratories in the western areas. Methamphetamine laboratories will thrive in eastern Kentucky because of the large tracts of secluded land, which make detection more difficult. The toxic waste associated with methamphetamine production will continue to threaten the environment, present hazards to law enforcement officials, and create extreme burdens on state and local budgets.

Cocaine availability will continue to increase in Kentucky. As availability increases, violence will also increase, particularly in Louisville and other urban areas. The level of violence associated with crack distribution and abuse is high and there are no indications that this trend will change. The number of crack cocaine-related treatment admissions will likely continue to increase if the drug's popularity increases in suburban and rural areas of the state.

Marijuana will remain the most widely available and frequently abused illicit drug in Kentucky. The state is one of the largest producers of marijuana in the nation, and there are no indications that this trend will change. The level of violence associated with production will continue to increase as growers protect themselves and their crops. The same types of groups that dominate the transportation and distribution of marijuana will continue to operate in the state.

Other dangerous drugs will continue to pose an increasing threat to Kentucky. Pharmaceutical abusers may transition from oral and nasal administration to intravenous injection as the stigma of this method is overridden by the abuser's needs. The number of pharmacy burglaries and robberies may increase as law enforcement officials, physicians, and pharmacists continue to utilize KASPER, the electronic prescription monitoring database, and other means designed to eliminate prescription fraud and doctor shopping. MDMA and GHB will continue to be abused in college and university towns, and abuse will continue to grow among young people in smaller cities and towns.

The overall number of heroin abusers receiving treatment may continue to increase as higher purity heroin that can be effectively smoked or snorted becomes increasingly available. As heroin availability increases, the level of violence associated with its distribution may increase as well. 


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