Arrested males on
‘ice’ top 35%

Honolulu outpaces 36 other big
cities in its incidence of 'ice' use

By Nelson Daranciang

Among 37 major metropolitan areas, Honolulu has the highest percentage of arrested males testing positive for crystal methamphetamine, according to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Between January 2000 and September 2001, 35.9 percent of all males arrested in Honolulu tested positive for crystal methamphetamine, also known as "ice."

No other city approached 30 percent. Cities participating in the survey ranged from New York City and Philadelphia to San Diego and Seattle.

"We're head and shoulders above the rest," said Andrew Ovenden, site coordinator for the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program in Honolulu. The program comes under the National Institute of Justice, the research and development agency of the Department of Justice.

Honolulu police were not surprised by the findings.

"The connection between property and violent crimes and 'ice' comes up time and time again. Some of the people we interviewed said crystal meth destroyed their lives," said Maj. Darryl Perry, Honolulu Police Department Narcotics/Vice Division.

Three-fourths of the Honolulu Police Department's Narcotics/Vice Division resources go to narcotics investigations dealing primarily with ice, Perry said.

Honolulu does not have the highest percentage of arrested males who test positive for drug use. That distinction goes to New York.

But according to the report, methamphetamine is the drug of choice for Honolulu criminals over marijuana and cocaine. Ice use is almost nonexistent on the East Coast, where cocaine and heroin are the drugs of choice.

"It's a phenomenon. Why (ice use) is the highest over here, I have no clue," Perry said.

But he points out that methamphetamine is highly addictive and is produced in places not too far from Hawaii -- Mexico and the Southwestern United States.

Kat Brady, Community Alliance on Prisons coordinator, believes marijuana eradication efforts forced drug users to turn to methamphetamine. "I think that the Green Harvest has had a devastating effect on Hawaii," she said.

Brady praises a law approved this year that includes ice users in a program to send nonviolent, first-time offenders to drug treatment instead of prison.

"We're really addressing the issue. People are stealing to support their habits," she said.

Donald Topping, Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii president, believes the number of males arrested who test positive for ice is just a reflection of the drug-using population.

"Hawaii is generally recognized as the No. 1 ice-using state in the country," he said, "A lot of those are arrested for possession or distribution of ice, a lot of the others are under the influence."

Ovenden said participation in the ADAM program, which is voluntary and confidential, is high in Hawaii. Eighty percent of the arrested males approached agree to be interviewed, and 80 percent of those agree to provide urine samples, he said.

"We emphasize that this is a public health issue. A lot of people realize they do have a problem," Ovenden said.

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