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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Study: The Cost, Quality and Availability of Drugs Around Cleveland

Posted By on Wed, Feb 11, 2015 at 1:55 PM

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The Ohio Substance Abuse Monitoring Network recently released their report on "Drug Abuse Trends in the Cleveland Region" for the first half of 2014, and it's definitely an interesting read. The report, associated with the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, was "based upon qualitative data collected via focus groups interviews" of "active and recovering drug users recruited from alcohol and other drug treatment programs in Cuyahoga and Lake County."

Let's take a look at some of the details the report (see it in full, below).

POWDERED COCAINE

Availability: 8 out of 10 (previously 7/10)

Powdered cocaine is moderately to highly available in the region. Participants most often reported the drug’s current availability as ‘8’ on a scale of ‘0’ (not available, impossible to get) to ‘10’ (highly available, extremely easy to get); the previous most common score was ‘7.’ A participant described powdered cocaine availability and explained, “Yes, one phone call [to obtain powdered cocaine], two at the most. For specific drugs, there’s specific drug dealers. For cocaine would be completely different than the person I’d call for heroin.” Another participant stated, “[Powdered cocaine] ... it’s a phone call away ... every dealer I went to had crack [cocaine], ‘coke’ (powdered cocaine) or heroin. [Location] doesn’t matter - east side, west side, they’ve got it.” Still another participant commented, “Yes, [powdered cocaine is] available, but I don’t think it’s as accessible as other things. A few phone calls away.”

Quality: 7 out of 10 (previously 4/10)

Participants most often reported the current quality of powdered cocaine as ‘7’ on a scale of ‘0’ (poor quality, “garbage”) to ‘10’ (high quality); the previous most common score was ‘4.’ Participants reported that powdered cocaine in the region is cut (adulterated) with baby laxative, baking soda, caffeine, ether, head shop cuts (often sold as carpet and room deodorizers) as well as numbing agents. Participants indicated varying quality of the drug. A participant reflected, “I spent a lot of money and I wasn’t going to spend it on junk [low quality cocaine].” Another participant said, “With my [young] age and [limited] resources, I could only get very low quality.” Overall, participants reported a decrease in the quality of powdered cocaine during the past six months.

Cost: $60-80 for 1 gram, $150-300 for 1/8 ounce (eight ball).

CRACK COCAINE

Availability: 10 out of 10 (previously 10/10)

Crack cocaine remains highly available in the region. Participants most often reported the drug’s current availability as ‘10’ on a scale of ‘0’ (not available, impossible to get) to ‘10’ (highly available, extremely easy to get); the previous most common score was also ‘10.’ Participants reported that crack cocaine is very easy to obtain. A participant commented, “[Crack cocaine is] everywhere. You don’t even have to look for it, it finds you. I could be walking down the street and people would ask me if I messed with that ‘hard’ (crack cocaine) ... [but] when there is a bust in the neighborhood, [crack cocaine is] less likely to be on the street - It’s a phone call [to a dealer to obtain].” Participants reported white and yellow (“butter”) as the most available types of crack cocaine in the Cleveland area. A participant commented, “I know that every time I went to get my drug of choice (heroin), [crack cocaine] was always available. It was white, like yellowish color. Easily available.” Community professionals most often reported current availability of crack cocaine as ‘7;’ the previous most common score was ‘10.’ A treatment provider reflected, “Even heroin addicts are smoking crack.” A law enforcement officer commented, “[Crack cocaine is] still out there ... people still smoke crack.”

Quality: 9 out of 10 (previously 5/10)

Participants most often rated the current quality of crack cocaine as ‘9’ on a scale of ‘0’ (poor quality, “garbage”) to ‘10’ (high quality); the previous most common score was ‘5.’ Participants reported that crack cocaine in the region is cut with amphetamines (“speed”), baby formula, baby laxative, baking soda, benzodiazepines, caffeine, head shop cuts, heroin, methamphetamine and numbing agents. A participant remarked, “[Crack cocaine] doesn’t burn right if it has pills or stuff in it.” A slight majority of participants reported no change in the quality of crack cocaine during the last six months, while other participants felt quality had decreased. A participant talked about fluctuating quality of crack and shared, “When [crack cocaine] was more pure, a hit would last for 45 minutes, now it’s only 20 minutes.” Other participants discussed how quality can be increased by cooking the drug again. A participant commented, “I would have to cook [crack cocaine] back to make it more potent.”

Cost: $20 for 1/10-3/10 gram pieces, $50 for 1/2 gram, $150-200 for 1/8 ounce.

HEROIN

Availability: 10 out of 10 (previously 10/10)

Heroin remains highly available in the region. Participants and community professionals most often reported the overall current availability of heroin as ‘10’ on a scale of ‘0’ (not available, impossible to get) to ‘10’ (highly available, extremely easy to get); the previous most common scores from both respondent groups were also ‘10.’ Participants discussed heroin availability and resiliency of the supply. A participant remarked, “Heroin is at a ‘9’ or a ‘10’ for availability. Every time the police bust, they rip down 120 guys at one time, but those neighborhoods have so many youth ready to take up the phone from the guy ....” Other participants shared: “[Heroin] was [easy to get] like crack; [Heroin] is my drug of choice, so I know it is super easy to get; I always went to Cleveland. You didn’t even have to blink and somebody would be coming up to you; I know dealers who will pass out samples.” Participants noted fewer differences in heroin availability between the west and east sides of the city of Cleveland than previously, as one participant explained, “[Heroin is] everywhere. If you’re from the east side you get it on the east, if you’re from the west side, that’s where you get it.” Community professionals continued to cite heroin as the most available drug in the region.

Quality: 6 out of 10 for brown powder, 9/10 for white powder, 10/10 for black tar

Participants most often reported the overall current quality of brown powdered heroin as ‘6,’ white powdered heroin as ‘9’ and black tar heroin as ‘10’ on a scale of ‘0’ (poor quality, “garbage”) to ‘10’ (high quality); the previous most common overall quality score was ‘8.’ A majority of participants felt that the quality of heroin has remained the same during the past six months, albeit variable. A participant explained, “It’s who you know. There’s great [quality heroin] and bad on the east [side], great and bad on the west side.” Participants advised: “This sounds crazy, but you need to build a relationship with your dealer to not get ripped off or get bad [quality heroin]; I would stick with somebody you know. If you just go driving and they see a white girl driving, they’re going to rip you off.”

Price (for brown powder and black tar): $10-20 for 1/10 gram, $60-70 for 1/2 gram, $90-120 for 1 gram

PRESCRIPTION OPIOIDS

Availability: 10 out of 10 (previously 10/10)

Prescription opioids remain highly available in the region. Participants most often reported the current availability of these drugs as ‘10’ on a scale of ‘0’ (not available, impossible to get) to ‘10’ (highly available, extremely easy to get); the previous most common score was also ‘10.’ A participant commented, “You can get [pills] with a couple of phone calls.” Community professionals most often reported current avail- ability as ‘7;’ the previous most common score was ‘10.’

Participants and community professionals identified Percocet® and Vicodin® as the most popular prescription opioids in terms of widespread use, followed by OxyCon- tin® OPs, oxycodone (“Perk 30s”) and Opana®. Several participants agreed, “’Perks’ and ‘Vikes’ (Vicodin®) are easiest to get.” An officer also reported, “All the heroin addicts we get are still ... requesting perks or vikes or whatever they can get [from doctors].” Participants continued to report higher difficulty in obtaining “premium” prescription opioids such as Dilaudid®, fentanyl, crushable Opana® and morphine.

Cost:
- Fentanyl: $1-1.25 per mcg
- Opana: $1.50-3 per mg
- OxyContin OP: $0.20-0.50 per mg
- Percocet: $1 per mg
- Roxicodone: $1 per mg
- Vicodin: $0.50 per mg

MARIJUANA

Availability: 10 out of 10 (previously 10/10)

Marijuana remains highly available. Participants and community professionals continued to most often report the current availability of marijuana as ‘10’ on a scale of ‘0’ (not available, impossible to get) to ‘10’ (highly available, extremely easy to get); the previous most common scores were also ‘10’ for both respondent groups. Higher quality marijuana is the most available type of marijuana throughout the region. Participants commented: “I couldn’t get ‘reggie’ (regular, low-grade marijuana) if I tried ... It’s just ‘kush’ (high-grade marijuana) and better kush; Reggie is a bit harder to find. People don’t want it and the dealers make more money off ‘loud’ (high-grade marijuana).” A treatment provider made a similar observation and commented, “That’s right, [high-grade marijuana is] all we hear. We don’t hear about regular marijuana anymore.”

Quality: 10 out of 10 (previously 10/10)

Participants continued to rate the overall current quality of marijuana as ‘10’ on a scale of ‘0’ (poor quality, “garbage”) to ‘10’ (high quality); the previous most common score was also ‘10.’ A participant explained, “Even the ‘regs’ (regular low-grade marijuana) that do come around are good [qual- ity] ... The weed that’s around is such high quality.” Most participants rated the quality of marijuana extracts as ‘10.’ Participants and community professionals remarked on how potent these extracts are. A participant said, “You only need a couple hits and you’ll be out of your mind.” A law enforcement officer explained, “It’s super [potent] marijuana.” Participants reported that marijuana concentrate is not cut or adulterated with any other substance.

Cost: High-grade
- blunt or two joints: $10
- 1/4 ounce: $80-100
- 1 ounce: $200
- 1 pound: $5,000-6,000

Cost: concentrates/extracts
- 1/2 gram: $60
- 1 gram: $80-120

METHAMPHETAMINE

Availability: 10 out of 10 (previously 3/3)

Methamphetamine is highly available in the region. Although most participants did not have experience with this substance, the participants who did most often reported the drug’s current availability as ‘10’ on a scale of ‘0’ (not available, impossible to get) to ‘10’ (highly available, extremely easy to get); the previous score was ‘3.’ Participants reported lowest availability in the urban center. A participant shared, “[Methamphetamine] is so easy to get [on the far east side].” Another participant said, “Meth and heroin are the biggest thing in Lake County. You need to know somebody. It’s not really a party drug. You have to make a chain of phone calls.” Additionally, a participant explained that once you know someone who makes methamphetamine, it is very easy to obtain the drug.

Quality: 5-7 out of 10

Of the few participants who commented on the current overall quality of methamphetamine, they rated it as ‘5-7’ on a scale of ‘0’ (poor quality, “garbage”) to ‘10’ (high quality). A participant shared that powdered, home-made methamphetamine contains, “whatever’s under the kitchen sink.” When asked about other substances used to cut methamphetamine, a participant explained, “You don’t need to cut meth.”

Cost: $50-60 for 1 gram

ECSTASY

Availability: 9 out of 10 (previously 10/10)

Ecstasy (methylenedioxymethamphetamine: MDMA, or other derivatives containing BZP, MDA, and/or TFMPP) remains highly available in the region. Participants reported the most popular form of the drug is the loose powder that is purported to be pure MDMA known as “molly.” Participants most often reported the current availability of molly as ‘9’ on a scale of ‘0’ (not available, impossible to get) to ‘10’ (highly available, extremely easy to get); the previous most common score for ecstasy tablets was ‘10.’ A participant commented, “I’ve heard of [molly] and it’s out there. I know people around my neighborhood that have gotten it and sell it.” Another participant clarified, “’Real molly’ (pure MDMA) is a ‘2,’ but ‘fake’ (adulterated) molly with bath salts is ‘10.’”

Quality: 4 out of 10 (10/10)

A participant explained variability in quality of the drug: “I’ve had some [molly] that was poor [quality] and ‘cut’ (adulterated with other substances) and then I’ve had it really good. It’s hit or miss.” Another participant shared their experiences with this drug: “I’ve had pure molly, called sassafras, it’s a tan color - it smells like licorice. You only need a little bit to get high for hours.”

A couple participants suggested that quality depends on where one purchases the drug and one commented, “I’ve gotten drugs from the east side and west side and anything I’ve gotten from a rich neighborhood on the west side is phenomenally better than anything on the east side ... I don’t know why.”

Cost (ecstasy): Tablet form: $20 per pill

Cost (Molly): $10-20 for 2/10 gram, $120-$150 for 1 gram

Read the full report for the Cleveland area below, or click here for reports on the following regions: Akron-Canton, Athens, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, Youngstown.

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