Enough narcotics to keep the city intoxicated for a year? Checking Batts' fuzzy drug math

At a press conference yesterday calling for more federal prosecutors and agents to help contain Baltimore's recent outbreak of violence, Police Commissioner Anthony Batts suggested the looting of 27 pharmacies and two methadone clinics during the riots has contributed to the problem.

Reading from prepared remarks, Batts suggested that, as a result of the looting, "there's enough narcotics on the streets of Baltimore to keep it intoxicated for a year."

We know that the commissioner has more important things to do than math problems, but this claim—which has since been repeated endlessly on local radio and TV newscasts—is so preposterous that it bears some simple calculation.

Later in the press conference, a BPD representative quoted a DEA report that suggested 175,000 "dosage units" of schedule 2-5 drugs were stolen during the looting.

If these doses were spread out about Baltimore's entire population of about 622,000, it would be so diluted, it wouldn't even keep Baltimore intoxicated for 10 minutes.

But let's assume that Batts is talking about keeping Baltimore's addicts intoxicated for a year. If Baltimore has but 20,000 addicts (and not three times that many, as earlier estimates claimed), then the 175,000 units work out to less than nine doses for each of those 20,000 people. If they cop once per day, that's a little more than a week's supply. If it's three times a day, that would be a three-day supply. If there are three times as many addicts, then that's a one-day supply. 

Assuming they double the number of stolen dosages, or triple them, there is still no way to add it up so that the looted drugs could "keep Baltimore intoxicated for a year."

Just saying.

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