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Meth and other drugs continue to have presence in county

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NISSWA — Methamphetamines continues to be an ongoing problem in Crow Wing County and the Lakes Area Drug Investigative Division (LADID) brought it to the forefront Thursday during a Methamphetamine Community Awareness presentation at the Nisswa Lions Community Center.

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“There is more methamphetamines in Crow Wing County than ever,” said Sgt. Joe Meyer, of the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Department, and commander of the LADID, who led the presentation where about a half-dozen people attended.

Meyer said meth is most commonly used by white, blue-collar workers and unemployed people in their 20s and 30s and by youths younger than age 18. Teenage girls take the drug to lose weight. Meyer said he is starting to see 50-year-olds to 60-year-olds, who are getting out of prison, going back to meth. Either they were still taking the drug in prison, Meyer said, or they started to hang-out with their old crowd who abused meth.

Meyer said a national household survey indicates 9.6 million residents in the U.S. age 12 and older have tried meth at least once and 7 percent of high school seniors have tried meth at least once. Meyer said only 6 percent of meth addicts can kick this drug, which is the lowest recovery rate of any drug.

“I talk to a lot of meth users and they want to quit, but they can’t,” said Meyer. “If they want to quit, they have to change everything in their lives.”

Meyer said the meth in Crow Wing County comes from Mexico and is delivered via vehicle, mail or speedy delivery. Meyer said the meth labs are huge in Mexico, but labs in the county have stopped. Meyer said investigators believe the labs stopped when the Sudafed (an ingredient in meth) law went into effect that regulated how much Sudafed a person could buy each month.

Meyer said one gram of meth, which is about the size of a sugar packet, has a street value of about $150-$200.

Besides meth, Meyer said the number of people abusing prescription medications has increased, not only in the nation, but also in the county as people steal prescriptions, get them on the street or from doctors.

“There are people who’ll go to an open house and they’ll steal the owner’s prescriptions,” said Meyer. “They’ll do whatever they can to get the medications.”

Effective Thursday, Meyer said the county sheriff’s office now has a “Take it to the Box,” where people may dispose of their leftover or old prescription medications. The boxes will also be in Crosby and Breezy Point.

Marijuana also is a big problem in the county, said Meyer. To make matters worse, Meyer said today’s marijuana is much stronger than it was in the past. He said the drug went from having 1 percent of the compound of THC to 30 percent THC today.

Synthetic marijuana also is around the county. Meyer said the drug should not have the name marijuana in it as it is a different type of drug. He said it is sold as an incense and makes people extremely paranoid and violent.

Kathy Stephen, of the Pine River area, who attended the meeting, said she recently went to her friend’s son’s funeral. She said he died from meth.

“My friend knew there was something wrong with her son,” Stephen said. “And at the funeral you could tell which one of his friends were using meth too ... It’s very sad.”

Stephen asked Meyer: “If you have a child who is doing meth what can you do?”

Meyer said the No. 1 thing a parent can do is to get treatment for the child. However, he said the child, or any addict for that matter, has to want to quit.

“You can’t force them to quit,” he said. “They have to want to do it.”

Stephen said she is a substance abuse prevention specialist at Working Together Coalition in Pine River. She said the coalition works with teens in preventing drug use with three offices in Cass County.

Pam and Joe Bilek, of Nisswa, heard about the awareness meeting and attended because they wanted to learn more about meth and other drugs in the community. Pam Bilek said she was amazed at all the tools used for drugs and how people were able to hide drugs in different items, such as a beer can.

For more information, contact LADID at 829-4749 or email ladid@co.crow-wing.mn.us.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at jennifer.stockinger@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5851. Follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jennewsgirl.

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