PCP Use Among Male Arrestees Is Highest In D.C., Office Of National Drug Control Policy Study Finds

05/29/2013 12:55 pm ET | Updated May 29, 2013

This is a top ranking that no one wants.

Male arrestees in D.C. were found to test positive for PCP use at a far higher rate than those in other major American cities, according to a new study by the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The study chronicled the drug use of arrestees in New York, Sacramento, Atlanta, Denver and Chicago using urine test samples and arrestee interviews (though information on PCP use in particular in Atlanta and Denver was not available).

The findings: Nearly 12 percent of males arrested in the nation's capital tested positive for PCP in 2012. The data actually represents a decrease for the District, from 13 percent in 2012, and is down from a high of over 15 percent in 2007.

The Washington Times noted that the percentage of male arrestees testing positive for PCP use varied by race:

While 86 percent of those arrested in the District were black and only 4 percent white, 31.2 percent of whites tested positive for at least one of the four drugs for which they were screened in the District while 29 percent of blacks and 19.7 percent of Hispanics tested positive for any drug.

In New York, only one-tenth of 1 percent of male arrestees tested positive for the hallucinogen, and in Chicago, only four-fifths of 1 percent tested positive.

D.C.'s data was collected differently than the data for other cities.

For the information on the District, a survey conducted over a 21-day period using urine tests of more than 2,500 arrestees administered by the D.C. Pretrial Services Agency was used instead of the urine test-interview combination, according to the Washington Times, which goes on to recount the White House's reaction to the report:

Introducing the report at a seminar at the Urban Institute in the District last week, R. Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, cited the overall statistics as a need for better substance-abuse treatment programs in local and federal detention centers.

“In local jails, the ability to get any treatment is pretty difficult,” Mr. Kerlikowske said. “Expanding access to treatment, especially among inmates, can dramatically reduce the repeat offenses.”

PCP use has increased over the past few years in D.C. The drug's use was heavily reported between 2009 and 2011, when the resurgence of PCP first was noticed.

Twenty-eight percent of arrestees in D.C. tested positive for a drug of some kind -- far fewer than in any other major city. But the survey in D.C. did not account for those testing positive for marijuana, the drug found most often in the urine samples of the other major cities. Over 58 percent of arrestees in Chicago tested positive for marijuana.

Cocaine, long an issue in D.C. -- in another unwanted top ranking, the city boasted the highest rate of cocaine use versus the 50 states -- was the drug found most often in the urine samples of arrestees in the District as over 16 percent tested positive. But even this figure represents a decrease -- the Washington Times notes that in 2002, 24.2 percent of those arrested tested positive for cocaine.

Reports of people committing crimes under the influence of PCP are often strange and bizarre. For example, this month a man high on PCP shot someone in Calverton, Md., and then proceeded to strip naked and climb a parked fire truck.

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