FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASENIJ
FRIDAY, MARCH 6, 1998202/307-0703

ONDCP - 202/395-6618

CRACK, POWDER COCAINE AND HEROIN MARKETS DIFFER DRAMATICALLY

Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey and NIJ Director Jeremy Travis Release Study to Aide Law Enforcement and Drug Treatment Providers

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Researchers studied drug use and purchase patterns among arrestees in six cities and concluded that drug markets have different characteristics both within and across cities, according to a report released today by the Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Within any given city, drug use and drug market participation varied substantially by the three drug types examined: crack, powder cocaine and heroin. The jurisdictions studied are Chicago, Manhattan, San Antonio, San Diego, Washington, D.C. and Portland, Oregon.

"This study will now form part of the strong scientific base upon which we base drug policy," said ONDCP Director Barry R. McCaffrey. "The National Drug Control Strategy will only succeed in reducing drug abuse if all our programs are based upon research and science. This report hands a new tool to drug treatment providers and police officers--two of the professions which have to deal with drug abuse on a daily, front-line basis."

"These findings will help both law enforcement officials and drug treatment providers in planning their respective strategies," said NIJ Director Jeremy Travis. "This report demonstrates how collecting information about local patterns of drug use and sales can help any community plan for the best use of its resources and ultimately reduce drug use and drug-related crime."

Study participants were very likely to test positive for drugs, indicating that they had used drugs within 72 hours before arrest. The majority of heroin users described themselves as daily users as compared to 40 to 50 percent of crack users and 10 to 40 percent of cocaine users.

The study also investigated purchase patterns of arrested drug users. A significant number of arrestees said that public assistance was their primary source of income before arrest rather than full- or part-time work. Arrested crack users were usually less likely to report using a single individual as a source than heroin and cocaine users. On average, crack users reported knowing more dealers from whom they could make purchases than did cocaine and heroin users. In all cities, most were likely to report using a main source who was of their own ethnic or racial background regardless of the drug sought.

In terms of specific drugs and markets, crack stands out for its significant exposure to law enforcement intervention. Most crack and heroin users reported making purchases outdoors, usually in their own neighborhoods. In Chicago and Washington, D.C., most arrestees reported that they made their drug purchases outdoors.

A majority of arrestees interviewed reported making at least one purchase in the week prior to their arrest. Arrestees interviewed in Portland reported the least number of purchases in the week prior to arrest.

Sixteen percent of crack users in San Diego, 13 percent in Manhattan and 12 percent in San Antonio reported living on the streets prior to arrest. Approximately 11.5 percent of crack users in Washington, D.C. and 8.5 percent in Manhattan reported living in a shelter before arrest.

Key variables analyzed included: the proximity of drug purchases to the buyer's neighborhood; the buyer's relationship to the seller; the elapsed time, duration and frequency of purchases; the size and price of the drug transactions; how income is generated for drug purchases; the presence of firearms during drug transactions; the quantities of drugs typically used; the form of drug and mode of administration; and the frequency of drug use.

Data were collected between 1995 and 1996 from over 2,000 recently arrested crack cocaine, powder cocaine and heroin users in the six cities studied. These findings are not representative of other cities and populations, since they do not include data on drug users who have not been arrested.

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the research arm of the Department of Justice, is the primary sponsor of criminal justice research and evaluations of programs to reduce crime. For additional information about NIJ, the Internet address is http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij. General information about the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) is available at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy, part of the Executive Office of the President, is the single agency responsible for coordinating all aspects of the federal drug control program, to include supply reduction, demand reduction and relations with state and local government. Additional information about ONDCP, to include the President's 1998 National Drug Control Strategy, is available at http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov.

Copies of the report are available on the Internet at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij, or from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS) by calling toll-free, 1-800/851-3420.

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NIJ 98-037

After hours contact: James Phillips at 888/491-4487 (pager)