Marion Barry's Son Dies Of K2/PCP Overdose

By McCarton Ackerman 08/16/16

Marion Christopher Barry struggled with drug addiction throughout his life but eventually got sober and ran for his father’s Ward Council 8 seat last year.

Marion Barry's Son Dies Of K2/PCP Overdose
Marion Christopher Barry Photo USA Today/YouTube

The son of former Washington D.C. Mayor Marion Barry tragically died of a drug overdose on Sunday morning.

The death of Marion Christopher Barry, 36, was first reported by NBC4 Washington. His death was confirmed by Cora Masters Barry, the widow of the former mayor. A police report noted that his overdose took place around midnight on Sunday morning after smoking K2 (synthetic marijuana) and PCP. The person who reported his death to police noted that he was “acting crazy/different” and then suddenly “dropped.” He was taken to George Washington University Hospital, but was pronounced dead just a few hours later.

“He had the intelligence his father had, the ambition his father had,” said Trayon White, a confidant of Barry’s. “He chose a different way to lead and became a business owner. He was a great guy, a great brother, a great friend. He had his struggles, but we all have our struggles.”

“Christopher’s sudden death has been devastating news to me. My heart is broken. I am in shock," said Cora Barry in a statement. "The news of his death is beyond comprehension.”

Barry struggled with drug use throughout his young life, facing drug-related charges in 2011, 2013 and 2014, according to NBC4. He eventually got sober and even ran for his father’s Ward 8 Council seat last year, but finished in sixth place.

Of course, former Mayor Barry is responsible for one of the most high-profile drug scandals in U.S. politics. He was arrested in 1990 after the FBI caught him on video smoking crack cocaine in a hotel room. The sting led to a six-month prison sentence, but he quickly resumed his political career after being released. 

Under the slogan “He May Not Be Perfect, But He’s Perfect For D.C.,” he was elected to the Ward 8 city council seat in 1992 and went on to serve four terms as mayor of D.C. from 1979 to 1991 and 1995 to 1999. He passed away in November 2014 at age 78.

“Him having struggled with drugs, I would have wished [my father] was there more,” the younger Barry told the Washington City Paper in April 2015. “But he was more concerned about politics.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.