Synthetic Drug Class Held in Boonville

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BOONVILLE - Synthetic cannabinoids and stimulants were the focus at the Clear and Present Danger presentation in Boonville Monday afternoon.

About 30 people attended the presentation including police officers and school administrators. Program manager at the Missouri Safety Center at the University of Central Missouri, Robert Welsh explained the goal of the presentation was to raise awareness and educate as many people as possible about these drugs.

In 2011 the state made the entire category of synthetic cannabinoids illegal, as well as many stimulants like bath salts. At first researchers thought the drugs were just a novelty and their popularity would fade away. Instead, use of the drugs have continued. Welsh said the concern with them is public safety.

"It's not just law enforcement, it's not just a bunch of cops kicking in doors and seizing things, every parent should be concerned, every school administrator, every teacher, every school nurse, EMT's, doctors, we should all be concerned because they are dangerous. They're here and they aren't going away," Welsh said.

However, there have been very few convictions statewide for using the drug. Welsh said the laws are harder to enforce at the local level because the drugs are sold by local businesses. Welsh said city governments do not want to take on the local business owner because of the role they play in the economy and owners might not know what they are selling.

Welsh said these drugs should only be used for research purposes because the effects of the chemicals are still being studied.

The Columbia City Council will also look at this issue of synthetic drugs at its meeting Monday evening. Concerns about the legal sale of synthetic cannabinoids is scheduled for public comment.