The popular name for the drug is "angel dust." It is relatively cheap, relatively accessible, and readily used by large numbers of youths in Maryland and around the country, law enforcement officials told two legislative committees here yesterday.
That is why, the law enforcement officials said, legislation should be enacted stiffening the penalties for the manufacture and distribution of phenocyclidine, the animal tranquilizer more commonly known as PCP.
"You can pick up the chemicals at any drug supply house and manufacture (PCP) in your kitchen," Ricgard L. Hamilton, director of Marylands Drug Abuse Administration, told the House Judiciary Committee.
Hamilton was speaking in favor of a measure that would increase the maximum penalties for manufacutirng and distributing the drug from five years in prsion and a $15,000 fine to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
"It's easily made, easily obtained, and doesn't cost much money," Hamilton noted, adding that 32 percent of the people enrolled in drug-treatment programs in Maryland "have had some problems with PCP."
Earlier, at a hearing on an identical measure before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committe, Montgomery County's deputy state's attorney, Timothy E. Clarke, said that PCP offenses "are right now consuniong 75 percent of the time of the Montgomery County narcotics unit . . .
"We have seized over the years multimillion-dollar labs"that produced PCP, Clarke added. "Anyone with a high school chemistry course behind them can make it . . . It takes six hours to turn $125 worth of noncontraband drugs into $37,000 worth of contraband drugs.
The Senate measure is the more stringent of the two, raising the maximum prison term for manufacturing and distributing PCP to 20 years.