Officials from the Prince George's County courts, health department, county executive's office and state and local police departments are working on three separate committees to address the problem of abuse of phencyclidine, the drug commonly known as PCP.
And until yesterday, it appeared that not one of the three knew the others existed.
The County Council voted yesterday to ask the Advisory Addictions Task Force to investigate the backlog of PCP cases in the county courts.
At the same time, county Chief Administrative Officer John Wesley White was meeting in his office four floors above to talk about the same problem with law enforcement officials.
And county health officer Helen B. McAllister told the council minutes later that her department is in the process of creating a task force as well, aimed exclusively at the health problems created by PCP, an animal tranquilizer that often causes violent behavior in humans.
The three groups are so far operating independently even though they have set out to solve a common problen.
"That's the problem with government," observed council member Sue V. Mills, who is one of 24 members of the county executive's Addictions Advisory Commission. "We suffer from redundancy," she said.
All three groups are seeking to deal with the county police department's apparent success in apprehending users of PCP. PCP users commonly smoke marijuana or parsley sprayed with the drug.
George Kolarik, supervisor of the health department's Drug Intervention Counseling Action Program, said that PCP replaced marijuana and alcohol during the past year as the number one drug responsible for admissions to his outpatient program.
Kolarik said he is hoping that his task force will be able to develop videotapes for parents and health professionals about PCP and print a treatment manual for the public.
Kolarik also said his research has shown the average PCP user is 24 to 26 years old, financially dependent on his parents and first used the drug at age 17.
About 300 defendants with PCP cases pending in the Prince George's County courts are waiting to be tested at the state police laboratories in Pikesville, White said, a factor which contributes to trial delays.
But that problem, White said, is "resolvable in the near future."
White said that the group he met with included representatives from the state and local police, the courts, the state's attorney's office and the Prince George's County Office of Law.
The problem, he said, can be solved easily by establishing greater coordination between officials involved in the disposition of the cases.
"It's not the type of thing that can be resolved by a lay panel," White said.
Mills said that the addictions board has little to do and should naturally be the body to make recommendations on the PCP problem.
Representatives from the new PCP advisory groups said yesterday that they would like to work together to solve the problem of PCP abuse.
"It matters that it gets done," McAllister said. "That's all."