University Of Maryland
CESAR: Center for Substance Abuse Research

Community Drug Early Warning System (CDEWS)

PI: Eric D. Wish, Ph.D.

Abstract: With funding from the Executive Office of the President, Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), staff at the University of Maryland’s Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR) conducted a pilot study of the Community Drug Early Warning System (CDEWS) in five criminal justice system (CJS) populations in Washington, DC; Prince George’s County, Maryland; and Chesterfield, Virginia. CDEWS was designed to provide rapid information about emerging drug use in local communities by sampling urine specimens already obtained and tested for a limited panel of drugs by local criminal justice agencies and retesting them for a larger panel of drugs. The anonymous specimens were sent to an independent laboratory for testing for a panel of more than 30 licit and illicit drugs including 12 synthetic cannabinoid (SC) metabolites. The results demonstrated that CDEWS could be successfully implemented in diverse criminal justice populations, including arrestees, probationers and parolees, and drug court participants. Most important, CDEWS proved its utility for uncovering emerging drugs. SCs were detected in the specimens from all participating sites in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. Furthermore, all of the SC positive specimens contained one or two of the metabolites (UR-144 and XLR-11) recently identified and added to the federal schedule of prohibited SC metabolites after this study began. Additional analyses of the CDEWS results identified areas of Washington, DC, where the SC positive specimens were more concentrated and where future studies of its use and availability could be focused. CESAR is currently conducting a second round of testing using the CDEWS methodology.

Funding Source: Office of National Drug Control Policy