COCAINE: A MAJOR DRUG ISSUE OF
THE SEVENTIES

HEARINGS
BEFORE THE
SELECT COMMITTEE ON
NARCOTICS ABUSE AND CONTROL
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
NINETY-SIXTH CONGRESS
FIRST SESSION

JULY 24, 26, OCTOBER 10, 1979

Printed for the use of the

Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control

U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE

WASHINGTON: 1980

Dr. Petersen, I noted in your 1977 monograph that you talk about

the need for more research. And you point out that the areas persua-

sively for expanding research effort should be in the following areas:

Incidence, prevalence, and patterns, and factors, and popularity of the

drug, characteristics of the high, the role of the personality factors,

pharmacology of cocaine, the effects of cocaine on human performance,

types of cocaine toxicity, et cetera.

Has the Institute pursued these areas? Have you assigned these areas

for further research?

Dr. PETERSEN. Yes; I could submit for the record a list of all the cur-

rent cocaine research projects. And the issue of incidence, prevalence,

and patterns of cocaine abuse is also part of our surveys looking at

the patterns of drug abuse more generally.

Mr. GILMAN. How much are we spending on cocaine research?

Dr. PETERSEN. About $1 million a year for about 40 projects a year.

Mr. GILMAN. $1 million per year. Yet, in your testimony, you talk

about how the multiple indicators are that interest in cocaine is infi-

nitely increased in recent years subject to 1977 when you talk about

having a million-some users in the country. And now, we find that it is

going up extensively.

Mr. Bensinger mentions that there are some 19 to 25 metric tons com-

ing into the country. It is either a $12 to $20 billion industry or some-

where in that range. I estimated based on your figures, Mr. Bensinger,

it would be about $16 billion if they cut it down to the way you cut

down your figures.

One million dollars of research seems to be rather a pittance com-

pared to the extensiveness of the use, abuse, and the extensiveness of

the trafficking.

You and I had a colloquy on the budgeting for marihuana the other

day. I feel that NIDA certainly is not doing what they should be do-

ing in research in marihuana. The $3.7 million level for the past 3 years

with the increasing trafficking and the problems that are developing

from the extensive use of marihuana, they certainly can't justify a $1

million expenditure with a serious drug of that nature and the amount

of use and abuse.

How do you rationalize that?

Dr. PETERSEN. Well, at the present time, the health problem it poses

is modest. Whether that health problem will increase with the avail-

ability of smoking cocaine--the change of mode of use can make a

difference in use of a drug--is not now known.

PCP is a good example. Taken orally, people found it a "bummer,"

a very unhappy drug to use, indeed. When they stared snorting it and

smoking it, it became a different ball game. And, in fact, PCP use "took

off."

That is certainly a possibility with smoked cocaine, probably some-

what less likely because of the extremely high cost, limit availability.

By contrast, marihuana is relatively cheaply available. As you

pointed out, Mr. Gilman it is a very much more, serious problem since

young people are frequently using it on a daily basis. By contrast, daily

cocaine use is extremely uncommon, simply because of the high cost.

Mr. GILMAN. But you do indicate there are some possible serious

problems. We had a number of deaths resulting from the use of . . .