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Synthetic Drugs in the District of Columbia

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2013, $60,000)

The State Justice Statistics (SJS) Program is designed to maintain and enhance each state's capacity to address criminal justice issues through collection and analysis of data. The SJS Program provides support to each state to coordinate and conduct statistical activities within the state, conduct research to estimate impacts of legislative and policy changes, and serve as a liaison in assisting BJS to gather data from respondent agencies within their states.

The Council of the District of Columbia (D.C.) recently passed the Omnibus Criminal Code Amendments Act which has made synthetic drug use illegal in the District. However, there is currently little empirical data on synthetic drug usage available to assess the full scope of the problem and determine the impact of the legislation. The D.C. Statistical Analysis Center (SAC), located in the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, will use SJS funds to identify ways to better quantify the synthetic drug use problem in order to inform policymakers and officials about the scope of the problem and identify ways to combat it. The SAC will take the following steps to gain perspective about the prevalence of synthetic drug usage, sales, and manufacturing within the District: 1) complete a literature review on the prevalence of the synthetic drug issue; 2) collaborate with various agencies to identify available data to assess the problem, including data on sales of synthetics and emergency room admissions for synthetic drug usage; and 3) examine the effectiveness of the emergency synthetic drug legislation passed in January to assess how agencies were impacted by the new legislation and whether the changes have had an effect on the usage of synthetic drugs. The SAC's findings will be used to develop recommendations and best practices related to the enforcement of synthetic drug usage and emerging testing procedures.


Date Created: August 5, 2013