Cocaine and its use in California

Cocaine (Credit: ljcesca/Flickr)
Cocaine (Credit: ljcesca/Flickr)

Cocaine:

Cocaine is a narcotic (alkaloid) obtained from coca leaves native to South America (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2013). Street names of cocaine are “C”, “Mojo”, “Aunt Nora”, “Dust”, “Charlie”, “Snow”, “Bernice”, “Toot”, “Nose Candy”, and “Sniff”. There is another form of cocaine, i.e. “freebase” cocaine. In this form, cocaine alkaloid in cocaine hydrochloride is “freed” from other components. It has less ability to be dissolved in the blood or mucous membranes of the nasal passages, but it can be effectively volatilized and smoked.

Medically, cocaine is used as a surface anesthetic. However, it can be used for pleasure, in which case it is highly addictive. Cocaine has the ability to develop short-term euphoria (feeling of great joy and pride), energy, and talkativeness along with the other side effects or toxic effects such as increased heart rate as well as blood pressure (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2013).

Actually, cocaine has the ability to increase levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. This neurotransmitter is important for the normal functioning of the central nervous system. It is also involved in the control of pleasure as well as movement (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2013).

Cocaine is found to be the second most trafficked drug in all forms of illegal drugs in the world. It is also the second most frequently used illegal drug in Europe. According to the estimates nearly 7.5 million people in youngsters in the age range of 15 to 34 years have used cocaine. Estimates have shown that in 2006, 35.3 million Americans in the age range of 12 years or older have reported the use of cocaine. According to the 2006 Monitoring the Future Study by the National Institute for Drug Abuse, nearly 8.5% of twelfth graders among High-School students have used cocaine (Drug Free World, n.d.). However, it would be interesting to know that the overall worldwide availability of cocaine has decreased. Cocaine use has been decreasing in North America since 2006 (UNODC, 2014).

Cocaine in California

California

California is a state in the western United States on the Pacific that is the 3rd largest state known for earthquakes. It is one the most populous states of U.S. as it is the home of every one person out of eight Americans. It is also the place for nearly half of the fruit production in the U.S. It is also famous for vegetable production.

Cocaine related policies in California

California passed a law in 1907 restricting the sale of cocaine only on the prescription of physicians. State Board of Pharmacy, which was developed in 1891 to manage different pharmacies and the sale of different poisons, designed California’s law. That law made California pioneer in working against illegal drugs. At that time, after the enforcement of law, 50 store owners as well as clerks were arrested in the first year. However, the law resulted in a continuing battle having no signs of victory against illegal drugs (Gieringer, 2007). Recently, California passed the “California Fair Sentencing Act” that has placed crack and cocaine powder in the same position. They are considered as “two forms of the same drug” (Speri, 2014).

According to California Health and Safety Code 11350, possession of cocaine is now considered illegal in California. Possession of Cocaine can be prosecuted for up to 3 years as a misdemeanor or felony. However, people having cocaine possession can be given a chance to speak. Moreover, possession of cocaine and “crack” cocaine for sale can result in imprisonment of up to 5 years (Official California Legislative Information, n.d.).

In 2003, Lyman & Potter noted that southern California was one of the primary cocaine importation points in the United States. Others were Arizona, Texas, and southern Florida.

Cocaine use and abuse in California

Although cocaine was available before 1907 but after that time, many aspects of cocaine became illegal. Smoking of cocaine freebase was first reported in 1974 in California (Rawson, 2000).

According to a report published in the February 2014, primary cocaine treatment admissions are among the 6.8% of the total Los Angeles, city in southern California, alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment admissions in the first six months of the year 2013. In 2009, there were about 13% admissions, whereas in 2012, it was 7.5%. This is showing the downward trend in the cocaine related admissions. Cocaine constitutes about 18.5% of drug reports in the first half of the year 2013, whereas in 2012, cocaine was 20.2% of the total drug reports. This is again showing the downward trend (Brecht, 2014).

References:

Drug Free World. (n.d.). International Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/cocaine/international-statistics.html

Brecht, Mary-Lynn. (2014). Drug Abuse Patterns and Trends in Los Angeles County—Update: January 2014. Retrieved from http://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/organization/workgroups-interest-groups-consortia/community-epidemiology-work-group-cewg/highlights-summaries-january-2014-reports/los-angeles-county-california

Gieringer, D. (2007). State’s war on drugs a 100-year-old bust / Rate of addiction has doubled since crackdown on use. Retrieved from http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/article/State-s-war-on-drugs-a-100-year-old-bust-Rate-2644479.php

Lyman, M. D., & Potter, G. W. (2003). Drugs in Society: Causes, Concepts and Control: Elsevier Science.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2013). Cocaine. Retrieved from http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine

Official California Legislative Information (n.d.). Health And Safety Code Section 11350-11356.5. Retrieved from http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=hsc&group=11001-12000&file=11350-11356.5

Rawson, R. A. (2000). Treatment for Stimulant Use Disorders: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.

Speri, A. (2014). California Has Finally Recognized That Crack and Cocaine Are the Same Thing. Retrieved from https://news.vice.com/article/california-has-finally-recognized-that-crack-and-cocaine-are-the-same-thing

UNODC. (2014). World Drug Report. Retrieved from http://www.unodc.org/documents/wdr2014/World_Drug_Report_2014_web.pdf

Usman Zafar Paracha

Usman Zafar Paracha is Assistant Professor, Pharmaceutics, in Hajvery University, Lahore, Pakistan.