COTTONWOOD Understanding today’s drug culture is not forgetting about what you know; it’s about being proactive in learning what you don’t know.
Marijuana, for example. For many adults at last week’s drug trends presentation in Cottonwood, their familiarity was as a green leafy substance, rolled into the classic “joint” that carries a certain odor when smoked.
“But every single thing you think about it has changed,” said speaker Jermaine Galloway, who discussed marijuana concentrates that break the traditional identification rules in form and potency, and especially how it can be brazenly promoted in clothing and commercial placements, and consumed by vaping in public view with literally no telltale odor.
“And it’s already here,” Galloway said, in rural Idaho communities. Idaho is bordered by Washington, Oregon, Montana and Nevada where marijuana has been legalized for either recreational or medicinal uses; the impacts from this are flowing across the border into the Gem State.
“What does this mean? We’re seeing things we’re not used to seeing,” he said, “we don’t know how they work and what’s the long-term impact….”
“This is going on in other states,” he continued, “and we have to know about that and we have to understand it.”
Find out more
Jermaine Galloway offers information on current drug trends:
online at Facebook (Tall Cop Says Stop), Twitter (jermaine@tallcopsaysstop) or his website (www.tallcopsaysstop.com).
More than 100 people attended the hour and one-half evening presentation at the Cottonwood Community Hall, sponsored by the Cottonwood Police Department (CPD), and funded through an Idaho Office of Drug Policy grant. Earlier that morning, Galloway gave a talk to students at Prairie Junior Senior High School.
“This is a great community, but we need you guys to be involved too,” said CPD Chief Terry Cochran to attendees. His focus was community awareness on the current – and more sophisticated – state of drug abuse, and the need for vigilance in identifying problems and working with law enforcement. Part of that involvement includes with CPD Officer Jason Rambo who serves part-time as a resource officer for Cottonwood schools, “a positive mentor that kids look up to,” Cochran said.
“Having a law enforcement agency just reacting to problems is missing two-thirds of the game,” he said. “As a community, we can work on that together.”
Galloway has been an Idaho law enforcement officer since 1997 with more than 15 years’ experience in underage drinking, drug and alcohol enforcement. He recently retired from the Boise Police Department to conduct these community education programs full-time.
Last Tuesday’s presentation provided a broad overview of current drug trends within the culture that are promoted and spread quickly through not just conventional media but the Internet and social networking … resources, according to Galloway, that parents, grandparents and the public as a whole can and should utilize to research symbols and slang terms to educate themselves.
“Look past the obvious; don’t just look at what you know but look at everything hovering around it,” he said, “and you’ll be amazed what you see.”
Case in point, he illustrated a store display of an orange “kush” mouse pad (a term referring to a marijuana strain) that had vape pens displayed on it. The product placement noted pens for use in vaping marijuana concentrate. Stores now prominently display large boxed quantities of butane; the chemical is used in a process to extract the THC from crushed marijuana to an oil or wax.
Galloway explained the change in THC potency, around 3 percent from back in the 1960s and even up to 10 years ago, to 15 percent seen on the streets currently. However, some product contains double that percentage, even up to 80-90 percent; not just homemade but being sold commercially in marijuana dispensaries.
Marijuana concentrates are being cooked into or glazed onto foods making “edibles” that are indistinguishable from being drugs: popcorn, peanuts, gummy candies are commercially available, or people can make their own.
“And they can carry a wallop,” Galloway said, with slower absorption rates – 30 minutes to two hours – and a different high than smoking, resulting in overdosing or paranoia that in cases has caused individuals to jump off buildings or shoot themselves.
“You have this stuff hovering around,” he said, available in the mom and pop convenience stores, such as kratom, an herbal available in leaf or pill forms that acts like an opiate and can be consumed, smoked or snorted.
“Approximately 90 percent of alcohol consumption by youth under 21 years old is through binge drinking,” Galloway said. But while the baseline for this is between four to five 12-ounce drinks in a two-hour period, numbers are much higher; from 10 to 12 and upwards to 20.
Marketing is now blurring the lines between alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks; some are packaged in cans similar to caffeinated energy drinks or are flavored drinks packaged as root beer or orange, for example, that at a glance appear to be just a soda.
“This stuff is swirling all around us,” Galloway said, and emphasized the need to be educating yourselves, sharing information, and “understanding these things are always trending, always changing.” As well, parents should talk with their kids on what is going on, what they’ve heard, rather than let the streets educate them. Kids are going to know more about this, but parents have the life experience to share: “This is an important message that needs to come from you.”
“Drugs won’t go away,” he said. “You have to stay active.”