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Dynamics of Methamphetamine Markets in New York City: Final Technical Report to the National Institute of Justice

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2011
268 pages
This study of retail methamphetamine markets in New York City and the role of illicit drug markets in consumption uses respondent-driven sampling, which is an innovative research design that mixes qualitative and quantitative data-collection methods and social network analysis.
Study findings indicate that the most striking characteristic of the methamphetamine market in New York City is the extent of the secondary market. Study data suggest that this large secondary market has developed because of "bottlenecks" in the chain of distribution, which may be the result of the inconsistent supply of methamphetamine available in New York City. Participants reported no violence related to methamphetamine markets in New York City. The larger submarket is a closed market related to the sexual behaviors of men who have sex with men (MSM). In this submarket, methamphetamine is used to intensify sexual feelings. The smaller submarket for methamphetamine is not related to sexual identity and behavior, but rather overlaps with powder and crack cocaine markets. Participants in the MSM submarket view methamphetamine as very different from cocaine, due to what they characterize as the drug's intense sexual effects; whereas, participants in the smaller "crystal meth" submarket view the drug as a cost-effective alternative to cocaine. Although a majority of participants in the smaller submarket reported their use of methamphetamine centered primarily on the intensification of sexual drive; almost all (91 percent) of the MSM submarket reported this. MSM market participants reported higher prices for the drug, which may be an indication that they are accessing purer forms of methamphetamine. Although all indications are that most participants in both submarkets are both users and distributors of the drug, participants were more willing to discuss accessing or purchasing methamphetamine. The study was based on a sample of 132 methamphetamine users, buyers, and sellers. 38 tables, approximately 225 references, and appended study instruments

Date Published: January 1, 2011