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NDIC seal linked to Home page. National Drug Intelligence Center
Colorado Drug Threat Assessment
May 2003


Methamphetamine will continue to pose a primary drug threat to Colorado. Methamphetamine likely will remain a greater threat than any other illicit drug in the state. Methamphetamine produced by Mexican DTOs and criminal groups in Mexico, California, and Arizona will be increasingly available as the drug gains in popularity. Stimulative effects similar to those produced by cocaine, but at lower prices, will continue to fuel this gain. However, low methamphetamine purity, increasing public awareness of the dangers of methamphetamine abuse, and increasing law enforcement focus on methamphetamine producers and distributors may impede the advancing popularity of the drug. Tightened federal and state regulations governing the purchase of precursor chemicals will continue to affect the availability and purity of locally produced methamphetamine. The cost of environmental cleanup of toxic waste from methamphetamine laboratories will continue to rise if the number of laboratories seized in the state increases.

Powdered and crack cocaine will remain a serious threat to Colorado. The number of admissions to publicly funded treatment facilities may continue to decrease; however, rising ED mentions and deaths in the Denver metropolitan area will continue to contribute to the magnitude of the threat. Cocaine distributors will increasingly target young club drug users in Denver. Consequently, the threat posed by cocaine may increase dramatically in Denver and its surrounding suburbs. In addition, if methamphetamine purity levels remain low, some methamphetamine users may switch to cocaine.

The threat posed by heroin may increase in Colorado. The demand for high purity, low cost heroin will ensure the continued flow of heroin from Mexico to Colorado. New heroin abusers likely will continue to prefer smoking or snorting the drug; however, as their tolerance increases, some abusers will switch to injecting as the primary method of administration. As heroin abuse increases, so will the number of heroin-related deaths, medical complications, and treatment admissions.

Marijuana will remain the most widely available and commonly abused drug in Colorado. Marijuana from Mexico and western states will continue to be readily available. High potency BC Bud is expected to increase in availability.

The popularity of club drugs will continue to grow. MDMA, already regarded as a mainstream drug in the metropolitan areas, will continue to increase in popularity throughout the state. Mexican DTOs and criminal groups, already suspected of distributing MDMA in wholesale quantities in several jurisdictions, may play an increasing role in MDMA transportation and distribution. GHB may become more popular among young abusers as these individuals become accustomed to the drug's effects and thus begin to view it as a comparatively safe substance.

Abuse of other club drugs such as LSD and ketamine and the hallucinogen psilocybin, particularly among youth, will lead to increased admissions for treatment, long-term healthcare concerns, and further strains on social welfare and law enforcement agencies. Diverted pharmaceuticals will remain a considerable threat to Colorado.


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