Drug forum highlights growing drug problem in area

By EDWARD LANG Managing Editor A drug forum to help students, parents and faculty understand the problems that face the youth of the area regarding the ever expanding drug presence in the Central Missouri Region was held at the Boonville High School commons Tuesday night. It was a chance for individuals to ask questions relating to the possibility that the Boonville R-1 School District will start random drug testing for students in extra curricular activities. The forum began with a Mid-Missouri Drug Task Force Detective Kip Bartlett explaining the process of making and using drugs such as methamphetamine, K-2 and bath salts. Bartlett also explained the dangers in making these drugs as well. He also explained the importance of keeping marijuana illegal since it is a gateway drug to other more dangerous drugs. The State of Missouri is once again the number one maker of methamphetamine in the nation after finishing at number two last year according to the Mid-Missouri Drug Task Force. Bartlett, along with an undercover agent of the task force, explained the signs of meth usage, from finding the signatures of the creation of meth to spotting the signs of distribution of it as well. Bartlett said if you have anyone in your neighborhood that has car traffic throughout the night, they are probably making and distributing meth. He also said the current method in creating meth is the 'shake and bake' method. He has seen where people are now making it while they are driving as well. He also explained the dangers in creating meth which can explode the equivalent force as two sticks of dynamite. The current method in creating the meth consists of a two liter bottle which while remained unattended has the explosive power to blow out a whole floor of a moderate size apartment complex. "We have seen many fires in apartment complexes due to people trying to create meth," Bartlett said. He explained that if you see batteries that have been peeled or empty bottles, usually mountain dew bottles with tubes coming out of them, they were most likely used to make meth. With the high toxic levels of the meth, he urged people not to drink or inhale any meth-like substance. "We knew of a kid who took a drink out of a mountain dew container thinking it was what it said on the cover. He was rushed to the Emergency Room after that," Bartlett said. Since everyone makes meth in a different way, he said the effects are different as well. He also mentioned that meth is very expensive to purchase. Other drugs of worry included bath salts, not to be confused with bath salts for soaking purposes in a bath tub. These drugs are very expensive and usually come in small packets. Bartlett said these drugs are geared toward teens and have different flavors. He said that there is no reason for teens to purchase these items unless to get high off of them. He urged parents to keep an eye on their children if they have any of these items on them. "They are not your typical bath salts you can get from Walmart for two dollars, these cost $35 for a small packet," Boonville Police Chief Bobby Welliver said. Among other drugs facing the youth of the area is the new synthetic drug known as K2. K2 is also a synthetic form of marijuana which produces the same effects resulting in a high intoxication level for the user. This drug according to the task force is hard to spot or outlaw because the compounds in making the drug change as laws change. Unfortunately, they said the drug producers are a step ahead of the law which makes it hard to arrest the people doing or making the drug because the form they are producing is legal. "Our hands are tied," Bartlett said. The forum then opened up for questions regarding the option of the school district doing random drug testing. "We are one of three schools in our conference that does not do random drug testing," Boonville R-1 School District Superintendent Mark Ficken said. He also said testing would include a cost and would only include students that are participating in extracurricular activities. High School Principal Jeff Brackman said testing the whole student body would be out of the question because education is a 'right' but testing students in extra activities because the activities are a privilege would be the approach the school district would take. He said the cost to test for K2 would be the most expensive because of the ever growing evolution of the makeup of the drug. He said the company could even select the same student to test multiple times in the same year, and some students may not be tested at all. The cost, he said would range from $20 on up to over $100 a student. Ficken said they would allocate funds for the testing every year. An individual asked if funds could be provided by both the district and the groups these students are participating in. Ficken did not rule this option out. With the cost of doing the testing, Ficken said he believes the outcome of saving students from drug abuse far out weighs the cost of the testing. Once a student has tested positive for drugs Brockman said the parents would be notified. He said it would not involve the police unless drugs or drug paraphernalia were found on school property.