A crack house is a building that is dedicated to the production, and/or sale of crack cocaine and other illegal drugs. These buildings are usually abandoned or have owners who showed no interest in their tenants, and if people living in them distribute drugs, they will be frequented by a variety of visitors seeking them. Though most people believe that crack houses are set in urban areas, it’s quite possible for these homes to exist in suburban or rural communities. Generally, the law defines what constitutes a crack house and can take specific action against either the owners or tenants of these buildings.
Different regions have different laws that define how a crack house is legally addressed. In the UK, the 2003 Anti-social Behaviour Act empowered law enforcement and the judicial system to treat crack houses in a number of ways from a legal perspective. When people in a home are suspected of manufacturing or distributing drugs, the Magistrates’ Court can create an order that closes the home. When the home is closed, people entering it are automatically charged with a crime.
Similar laws in the U.S., such as the 2003 Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act, can close down homes suspected of being a crack house and charge people for entering them. They also hold owners of those homes responsible in a criminal way for allowing soliciting or production to occur on their premises. This act has extended beyond the traditional definition of crack house. It was also meant to target drug distribution at events like raves. Theoretically, any facility on which drugs are either made or distributed might be considered a crack house, and the owners of that facility could be held responsible.
The U.S. law has created some interesting legal examples. In 2010, there was talk of attempting to clamp down on drug use at Reed College because two students died by heroin overdose in a single year and the college had a reputation for looking the other way on the issue of student drug use. A yearly festival at the school, which was known for a significant amount of drug use, led law enforcement officials to consider whether they could expand the definition of crack house to the whole of the college campus, and the notion of charging the school administrators with running a crack house was entertained. In the end, the school was not charged with any wrongdoing and the festival appeared to show little signs of drug abuse.
Principally in urban neighborhoods, crack houses are part of urban blight and a dangerous element of living in many poorer communities. Organized citizen groups have attempted to rid their neighborhoods of these houses, which pose a danger to themselves and their families. Despite laws that are attempted to ban the existence of crack houses and to cut down on drug manufacturing and distribution, cities may lack the willpower or the resources to get rid of these illegal gathering places.