The Crack Epidemic

In the early 1980s, the majority of cocaine being shipped to the United States was coming through the Bahamas. Soon there was a huge glut of cocaine powder in these islands which caused the price to drop by as much as 80 percent. Faced with dropping prices for their illegal product, drug dealers made a shrewd marketing decision to convert the powder to "crack," a smokeable form of cocaine. It was cheap, to produce, ready to use, and highly profitable for dealers to develop. As early as 1981, reports of crack appeared in Los Angeles, San Diego, Houston, and in the Caribbean.
At this time, powder cocaine was available on the street at an average of 55 percent purity for $100 per gram, and crack was sold at average purity levels of 80-plus percent for the same price. In some major cities, such as New York, Detroit, and Philadelphia, one dosage unit of crack could be obtained for as little as $2.50. Never before had any form of cocaine been available at such low prices and at such high purity. More important from a marketing standpoint, it produced an instant high and its users became addicted in a very short time. Eventually, Caribbean immigrants taught young people in Miami how to produce crack, and they in turn went into business in the United States.
Unknown-1.jpegAddiction Increased
The crack epidemic dramatically increased the numbers of Americans addicted to cocaine. In 1985, the number of people who admitted using cocaine on a routine basis increased from 4.2 million to 5.8 million, according to the Department of Health and Human Service's National Household Survey. Likewise, cocaine-related hospital emergencies continued to increase nationwide during 1985 and 1986. According to DAWN statistics, in 1985, cocaine-related hospital emergencies rose by 12 percent, from 23,500 to 26,300; and in 1986, they increased 110 percent, from 26,300 to 55,200. Between 1984 and 1987, cocaine incidents increased fourfold.
By early 1986, crack had a stranglehold on the ghettos of New York City and was dominated by traffickers and dealers from the Dominican Republic. Crack distribution and abuse exploded in 1986, and by year-end was available in 28 states and the District of Columbia. According to the 1985-1986 National Narcotics Intelligence Consumers Committee Report, crack was available in Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Kansas City, Miami, New York City, Newark, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis, and Phoenix.




Annotated Bibliography: Justice.gov
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