By John Holler
A significant part of the time that law enforcement spends dealing with crime has to do with drugs and drug abuse. It is estimated that two of every three crimes that are committed have some drug or alcohol involvement. While there are numerous concerns over illicit drugs, one of the fastest-growing drug problems has to do with those that are obtained legally — prescription drugs.
At the Sept. 4 meeting of the Wright County Board of Commissioners, the board approved a prescription drug take-back event Sept. 29, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Monticello City Hall/Community Center. Sheriff Joe Hagerty said that, while his department routinely deals with drug offenses, the rise in prescription drug abuse is becoming rampant.
“We had a similar event in St. Michael earlier this year and collected more than 60 pounds of prescription drugs, which speaks to the amount of unused drugs that are out there,” Hagerty said. “Prescription drugs like Vicodin and Oxycontin are just as dangerous as drugs like marijuana, meth and cocaine. But, because they are legally prescribed, they don’t have the stigma that street drugs have and people don’t look at them in the same way.”
The problem, Hagerty said, is that unused prescription drugs often remain in medicine cabinets and they are easily accessible, especially to children looking to experiment. Prescription drugs play an important role in the recovery of those to whom they are prescribed, but pose potentially lethal dangers when taken by those to whom they were not prescribed.
“Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs,” Hagerty said. “Studies show that a majority of used prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including the home medicine cabinet.”
Hagerty said the take-back event will allow people to clean out their homes of unused drugs so they can be safely disposed of. He said there is a “no questions asked” policy about the drug take-back and that labels can be peeled off it the person turning them in wants to assure anonymity. The focus, he said, is to get a potential danger off the streets, not to target anyone.
“The goal is to get all of these drugs away from those who might abuse them,” Hagerty said. “It’s hard to put a price on a human life. Hopefully, this program will continue to remove these dangerous drugs from getting into the wrong hands and help save a life.”
In other items on the Sept. 4 agenda, the board:
APPROVED a series of tax forfeit parcels being turned over to the cities of Buffalo, Monticello and South Haven.
APPROVED a bid of $20,695 by Fyle’s Excavating to do repair work on Joint County Ditch 15. Under state ditch law, the costs are turned back to benefited land owners to pay.
SET a transportation committee of the whole meeting for 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 10, to discuss the Grand Castles Estate road easement. The meeting was set for an evening so interested members of the public impacted by the easement question can attend the meeting.
APPROVED a resolution of final acceptance of the 2011 county overlay projects with Knife River Inc. and authorized the final payment of $204,286.
AUTHORIZED meeting in closed session at the conclusion of the meeting to discuss pending litigation against the county and prepare strategies how to deal with the matter if it ends up in court.
APPROVED payment of $400 to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for a permit for the parking lot replacement at the Human Services Center in Buffalo.