Tuesday, October 5, 2004

Public schools gird for drug war



By Cindy Kranz
Enquirer staff writer

MILFORD - While Cincinnati Country Day tackles the youth drug culture, public schools also are taking the offensive in the war against drugs.

About 100 police officers, school administrators and child-advocacy agents learned about substance-abuse awareness and prevention at Milford High School.

The "Street Smart" program provided information on trends, terminology, paraphernalia and physiological effects of drugs. Two officers from the Franklin County Sheriff's Department conducted the presentation.

During the four-hour program, participants saw samples of current "designer" street drugs such as ecstasy, LSD, GHB, ketamine and khat, as well as drug paraphernalia that can mask drug use from adults. The officers also discussed marijuana, cocaine, crack, heroin, methamphetamine, prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

Alcohol is still the mostly widely abused, but in terms of street drugs, the No. 1 abused drug in the schools is marijuana, said Sgt. Mike Powell of the Special Investigations Unit of the Franklin County Sheriff's Department.

"It's probably the most misunderstood," he said. "We tend to think marijuana has always been marijuana, and if you check the THC (marijuana's main active ingredient) factor, back in the '50s, when man really started to abuse it here, it was less than 1 percent. We now have reefer here in the U.S. that can go up to 34-35 percent.

"And most people think, 'Hey it's really not that bad of a drug, because I don't drop dead on it.' They don't realize it is definitely a gateway drug."

The event was sponsored by the Ohio School Resource Officer Association, Miami Township Police and Milford High School as a service to school districts and police agencies in Butler, Clermont, Hamilton and Warren counties.

"The program also serves as a continuation of the effort by Milford High School administrators and school resource officers to address the issue of substance abuse," said Valerie Miller, Milford Schools spokeswoman. "The message to our students and our community is that substance abuse is not acceptable and will not be tolerated."

Last March, Milford High School invited law officers to search the building and grounds for illegal substances. Officers issued citations, and nine students were suspended.

After the suspensions, some teachers and students expressed concern over the laid-back attitude about drugs among the students.

Powell said that attitude is not uncommon. "That's a reflection of mom and dad. It's a reflection of how the kids are being brought up."

Web sites

To learn more about street drugs, visit:

• www.streetdrugs.org

• www.projectghb.org

• www.drugabuse.gov

• www.inhalants.org

• www.sheriff.franklin.oh.us

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E-mail ckranz@enquirer.com




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