Substance Abuse Advisory Commission talks opioids disposal

Posted on 8 November 2017 at 4:30pm

COLUMBIA -With the opioid crisis affecting cities across the country, officials are looking at better ways to get rid of old drugs.

That was the focus of the Substance Abuse Advisory Commission's meeting on Wednesday.

"Drug disposal is an issue we've been looking at for quite some time," Steve Hollis said.

Hollis is the human services manager for Columbia Public Health and Human Services. He said disposal options are slim.

"We were able to purchase an incinerator for the police department here locally," he said. "But unfortunately due to a DEA ruling we are not able to use that incinerator for drug disposal."

He said right now, the city and county must rely on prescription drug take-back events hosted by the Boone County Sheriff's Department twice a year. The DEA handles the disposal of drugs collected.

"There's a big benefit in having year-round ability to easily dispose of prescription drugs so those don't sit in folks' medicine cabinets, and we keep them out of our water and our environment," Hollis said. 

The cost of disposal is the biggest challenge, he said.

Hollis said pharmacies could do drug take-backs as well, but there's still the question of what to do with the drugs after they are collected. 

He said the city directs people to their website to follow hazardous waste rules to throw away their unwanted drugs. 

There is an opiod summit on November 29, and Hollis hopes they come up with a forum to discuss solutions to the problem. 

"We think drug disposal is one of those issues we can tackle as a community we just need to find a way to pay for that." 

The commission also plans to continue to push the alcohol policy that would regulate drink prices specials at bars, such as bottomless cups and $1 drinks. 

City Council talked about the policy at its last meeting, but ultimately advised against the commission proposal, instead looking to Columbia police to increase law enforcement around bars to stop minors from drinking. 

Lt. Krista Shouse-Jones said the department is having a conversation about how to best address the council's request.

There is also the question of who would enforce these drink regulations if put into place.

"Under the current system it would fall to CPD to enforce it," she said. "Obviously I think most folks know CPD struggles with resources at this point, we obviously don't have enough staffing to meet the needs that are in our community."

She said a lot of times when ordinances are passed, people comply because they know it's the law.

"We would hope for voluntary compliance if those drink special regulations are enacted at some point in the future," she said.

Commission member Kim Dude said bar owners would take responsibility to enforce the regulations.

"On a competition standpoint, bars are supportive." said commission member and CPS spokesperson Michelle Baumstark. 

None of the commission members were present at the last city council meeting when the policy was discussed, which may be one of the reasons why the council wasn't supportive. 

The commission plans to gather police data and invite a city attorney to their next meeting to strengthen their policy push to city council. 

"Any public discussion is a step forward," Baumstark said.