More medicine dropoff points needed

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Column by Jim Clark

One of the services that law enforcement agencies provide a couple of times per year is the “pill take-back day” that was held last Saturday.
On that day, people can drop medication, usually unwanted or outdated, off at any of the sites and it will be disposed of properly. Nationally, the Drug Enforcement Administration pushes the event, and local law enforcement agencies cooperate.
One of the problems this year was the locations. There were only three in the county that were publicized: The Ocala Police Dept. downtown, the Sheriff’s Office at The Villages and the Sheriff’s Office on State Road 200.
That meant that the people in the northern part of the county had to take a long drive to reach a site, or else just keep their pills and wait for the next session.
It does seem that a site at one of the northern substations would have been appropriate. Then everyone in the county would have had easier access.
I stopped at the State Road 200 site, which is just a few blocks from our office, on Saturday morning. You could hardly get into the parking lot at 10:30, a half hour after the site opened. At that point the deputy on duty was searching for more boxes because the six she had were getting full, and there were more than three hours to go.
Obviously, people were responding.
A couple of thoughts can be taken from this: first, there needs to be more locations; and second, the take-back day needs to be held more frequently.
The news releases said that this was a no-questions-asked drive, people could drop off pills without being hassled. Somehow, though, we think that the people who take advantage of this event are mostly law-abiding people whose medication has been changed by their doctors, leaving them with unneeded pills, or families who may have suffered a death, and that person’s medication is just sitting there. I doubt many illegal drugs are given up by users.
Why should you turn the medicine in? Well, all the environmental studies say that simply flushing away the pills puts that medication back into the ecosystem eventually, and that’s not good for water, etc. You also don’t want to just drop pills in the garbage, where they’ll end up in a landfill, or where someone can steal them before the garbage gets that far.
The DEA takes care of disposal, usually by incineration, so there’s no danger of your unwanted pills inadvertently hurting anyone else.
So if you didn’t make it last Saturday, keep that medication in a safe place, and the next time one of the drives takes place, make an effort to get rid of the pills.
It’s good for the community, and for the environment.
Jim Clark is the editor of the South Marion Citizen..