Jennifer Terman

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May 7, 2013
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NorCal's prescription drug take-back day collects 18 tons

The Grass Valley Police Department and the Coalition for a Drug Free Nevada County collected a record amount of unwanted and expired medications, helping to make the United States Drug Enforcement Administration’s sixth national Prescription Drug Take-Back Day a complete success.

Northern California and Central Valley residents turned in 18 tons of unwanted and expired medications (36,004 pounds) at 211 collection sites manned by 147 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies that partnered with DEA on the event April 27.

In Grass Valley alone, 171 pounds were received within a four-hour period, bringing the total local collection for this event to 1,048 pounds.

“We really appreciate the turnout and support we get from the community,” said Grass Valley Police Capt. Rex Marks. “We put in a lot of time to help contribute to the safety of our community, and that is just one step in that process.”

The prescription drug takeback movement is not only an abuse issue, Marks said, but also an environmental issue, as the medication flushed down toilets and sinks creates negative health effects through consumption of medicated water.

“It’s also a preventative to getting pharmaceuticals off the streets and out of the potential hands of users and abusers, youth and adults and getting expired prescriptions out of the hands of those who no longer need them,” Marks said.

Nearly 68 tons (135,860 pounds) have been collected from the Central Valley and Northern California during the six prescription drug take-back events since September 2010.

Nationwide, 742,497 pounds (371 tons) of prescription medications were collected from members of the public at more than 5,829 locations manned by 4,312 state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies that partnered with DEA on the event.

When added to the national collections from DEA’s previous five take-back events, more than 2.8 million pounds (1,409 tons) of prescription medications have been removed from circulation.

The prescriptions collected in Nevada County are delivered to the DEA in Sacramento, Marks said, and are then transported to the Covanta Energy plant in Crows Landing, outside Modesto, which converts waste to energy and serves as the only incinerating facility used by law enforcement in the state.

“So not only are we incinerating all these drugs safely but converting them into energy as well,” Marks said. “We use it for law enforcement on a regular basis to dispose of old evidence, biohazard materials, etc.”

The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications.

The best way to prevent the abuse of prescription drugs, Marks said, is to keep them locked and secure and dispose of unneeded drugs safely.

“We would like to remind the community that it’s really important to make sure you have those prescriptions secure at all times,” Marks said. “It’s very important to keep them secure and out of the hands of children, family members and friends.”

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The Union Updated May 7, 2013 08:54AM Published May 7, 2013 01:52PM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.