Supplies of the potent cocaine derivative crack are plentiful in a dozen major U.S. cities, but use of the drug is not as widespread as is generally believed, the Drug Enforcement Administration said Wednesday.
In a study based on reports from its offices around the country, the drug agency said crack is “readily available” in Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Miami, New York, Newark, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and St. Louis.
Agency field offices reported that in Detroit “crack availability and use were widespread. In Houston, crack is reported to be preferred over all other drugs. Crack is highly available in Miami.”
The report said there are smoke houses in Detroit where the user, for a fee, is given a room and equipment with which to smoke crack that has been purchased at another location.
DEA offices reported that the drug is available to a lesser extent in Los Angeles, Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis, Phoenix and Washington, D.C.
Effects of Media Reports
The report’s summary concluded that the result of media attention “has been a distortion of the public perception of the extent of crack use as compared to the use of other drugs.”
It said that “crack presently appears to be a secondary rather than primary problem” in most cities, compared to the more widespread use of cocaine hydrochloride, from which crack is converted.
Cocaine hydrochloride is converted to crack through use of baking soda or ammonia, and the effect of smoking the derivative is far more intense than that provided by snorting cocaine.