Rats that managed to get into an evidence room at a decaying police headquarters building have been eating confiscated marijuana, the New Orleans Police Chief has said.  The ageing offices of the police department in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States are so dilapidated and vermin-infested that the animals managed to get into the evidence lock-up room, according to Police Superintendent Anne Kirkpatrick.

“The rats eating our marijuana, they’re all high,” she told city council members on Wednesday.

“The uncleanliness in the building is off the charts,” she added.

Rat droppings have been found on officers’ desks, Ms Kirkpatrick said – adding that the building, where the department has been based since 1968, has been taken over by mould and cockroaches.

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Ron Harrison, global technical director for Orkin Pest Control, said he hasn’t heard of rats eating marijuana before. As to what they go through when they do, he told The Associated Press that they may experience the same effects as humans, depending on what form it was in. Many people experience a sense of relaxation and euphoria from the drug, as well as altered senses, according to the national institute on drug abuse.

“From understanding the biology of the rat and how it’s somewhat similar to us, I would think based on the amount or concentration they take in, it would be somewhat similar to what humans experience,” Mr Harrison said. Ms Kirkpatrick said that the working conditions in the headquarters mean demoralised staff have to cope with broken air-conditioning and lifts and potential recruits are put off coming for interviews.

However, she praised the department’s office cleaning staff, who “deserve an award for trying to clean what is uncleanable”. Finding new premises for the 910 officers has been one of her priorities since becoming chief in October, she said.

Councillors are considering a proposal to spend $7.6m (£6.5m) on a 10-year lease to temporarily relocate the police headquarters to a pair of floors in a high-rise building in the city’s downtown area.