Prevalence of 'wet' in Camden concerning officials

Wet, the street name for marijuana dipped in the hallucinating drug PCP, has been around in Camden for at least a decade. But only recently has it received so much attention, not just from the media but from local and state officials.

In less than three weeks, two children have been killed by adults alleged to be “wet.” (Read here)

At Tuesday’s City Council caucus, president Frank Moran introduced a resolution asking state legislators to consider changing statutes or do whatever is needed to penalize people dealing wet.

“It’s reactionary, obviously, but something has to happen,” Moran said. “This is crazy.”

The resolution will be voted on at next week’s Council meeting.
PCP, which causes serious hallucinations, has been a popular drug since the 1960s, said Dr. Steven Marcus, executive director of the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System. The difference today is the high concentration of PCP some people are using.

But even with high doses, Marcus does not believe PCP alone would cause people to kill.

“It’s not usually this degree of violence,” Marcus said, adding that it’s very possible the suspects in the crimes had taken other drugs or that what they thought was wet was some other sort of chemical. However, he couldn’t think of what other substances they could have taken.

Sometimes wet users are marijuana users who experiment with dipping a joint into a coffee mug with PCP liquid. Other chronic drug users use wet because it’s the only thing they can get their hands on.

 Hallucinating effects usually last a couple hours, said Alfred Sacchetti, Chief of Emergency Medicine at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center.

Wet users come in to Lourdes’ emergency room on a “daily occurrence,” Sacchetti said, and are strapped down until the drug effects wear off. Users range from teenagers to people in their 50s and 60s.

In Philadelphia, wet is a common “party drug” in the Kensington and North Philadelphia area, according to a Philadelphia narcotics officer who asked to not be named. But “we don’t have the epidemic Camden is having,” the officer said.

It’s usually a younger crowd who uses wet in Philadelphia. “It’s the ‘weekend warrior’ title … Just someone who wants to keep the party going,” the officer said.

While there is no physical addiction like cocaine and heroin, effects of PCP can come back years later, the officer said.