301 W. Franklin Street
Taylorville, IL 62568
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FROM THE SHERIFF’S DESK – VOLUME 1, #8
By Sheriff Bruce Kettelkamp
WHAT IS THE MOST DANGEROUS DRUG TODAY?
For years, the answer to this question was such things as “heroin” or “cocaine.”
But in many ways, the correct answer is actually marijuana.
I say this for several reasons.
According to US Government estimates, domestic marijuana production has increased more that tenfold over the past 25 years.
Since 2006 marijuana has become the largest cash crop in the United States. Its value, estimated at more than $35.8 billion, is higher than America’s total corn and wheat crops combined.
What changes have occurred to make this incredible transformation? For one thing, marijuana used to be grown in outdoor areas. But changes began to occur in the 1970s and 1980s. Marijuana growers, particularly those in Canada, began to experiment with bringing the crop into indoor production. They developed new techniques and processes. Indoor locations were extremely difficult for law enforcement to find. They were easily concealed.
Furthermore, the new growth methods increased both the quantity of the crops and their potency as well. One result was for the key ingredient, THC, to reach the highest levels that any production had ever achieved.
The change was so dramatic that Canada, up to then an importer of most of the marijuana consumed, produced so much that they no longer needed any imports of the drug.
They also discovered at that time, that they could service a growing portion of the crop consumed in America. And of course since these sales were not likely to ever be reported on a tax return, the resulting huge profits attracted organized crime which rapidly took over the basic production.
Those changes soon led to the adoption of the same techniques in the United States. The growers added more improvements to the systems helping to expand the total production.
And that, of course, quickly led to a large growth of customers. It helps explain why marijuana is estimated to be the top cash crop in 12 American states.
And how big is the audience for it? We estimate that 95 million people have used it at least once. Furthermore, 14,600,000 use it every month, with about 5,000,000 using it daily.
It accounts for 81% of the USA drug use
And the average age of the youthful beginner is only 13. About 40% of those 12 or older have smoked cannabis. And each new year produces another 2.6 million new users.
Of course, there are those who defend marijuana, saying that it is too weak to cause any meaningful damage to users. So the question is, is marijuana a Gateway drug?
Consider these facts Very few young people use other illegal drugs without trying marijuana first. 60% of teens admitted to drug treatment said marijuana was their main drug. Adults who use marijuana before age 15 are 6 times more likely to become dependent on illegal drugs, especially cocaine and heroin.
It is very frequently the primary factor in impaired driving.
Marijuana, even low dosages, affects concentration and perception, delaying coordination and reaction time. After alcohol, marijuana is the most frequently found substance in car crash investigations. About 33% of DUI drivers are high on marijuana.
Marijuana and alcohol combined can triple your Blood Alcohol Content level, dangerously affecting your driving ability.
So does marijuana do any good? About the only thing it does is teach kids how to find a dealer, how to do a dope deal, and how to stash it. It will introduce them to the drug subculture. These are all reasons why we have to stop it.
The challenge of finding and destroying indoor marijuana has been a major law enforcement goal for some years. We have special training courses which deal with every aspect of the challenge of locating these places and building the proper cases which will lead to convictions. The courses even deal with the many types of booby traps used by the growers and what officers must do to protect themselves.
Canadian police for years dealt with this question before the crops became so large in the United States. It is not unusual to have a course designed and taught by a Canadian who battled these elements for years.
American law enforcement has achieved some excellent results, but the challenge is still there and we must continue to deal with it.
A SPECIAL NOTE ON ANOTHER TOPIC: We had a report of the barricades and flashing lights of a road/highway warning sign being stolen. This was in a rural area where the work was underway to correct a potentially dangerous road surface situation.
The theft meant that a driver coming along this road had no real warning of the hazard which could have led to a serious accident. There is no excuse for such an action.
Anyone with information about this matter should call the Sheriff’s office or Crime Stoppers.
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