Anonymous drop-boxes for weed and prescription drugs
by Mark Reaman
Gunnison Valley law enforcement is making it easy for people to anonymously drop off unwanted drugs, whether they are unused marijuana products, or expired or unwanted prescription drugs.
While a marijuana drop-box has been operating since last spring in Crested Butte, a new prescription drop-box was installed in the main Marshal’s Office last week. There is also a marijuana drop-box at the Gunnison Crested Butte Regional Airport.
“The idea is to provide an easy, safe and anonymous place for people to dispose of drugs they don’t want,” explained Crested Butte marshal James Beda. “The average household has about four pounds of unused, expired or unwanted prescription medicine and over-the-counter vitamins. Throwing away or flushing medication down the toilet are both unsafe ways to dispose of these medicines.”
Last October the Marshal’s Office hosted a “drug take-back day” and more than 15 pounds of drugs were brought in to be destroyed, including more than half a pound of just narcotics. Beda said there are a number of reasons to take advantage of the drop-box opportunity.
“Another important reason to properly dispose of unwanted medication is to keep controlled substances away from teens and persons with addictions. A 2012 study showed that 24 percent of American teens have taken prescription medication without a prescription. That number is believed to be 40 percent now,” Beda explained. “America is struggling with an opiate addiction and the vast majority of heroin users started by taking prescription pain medicine [opiates]. The drop-box program is designed to help ensure medicine is properly disposed of and kept out of the wrong hands.
“The prescription box can be used for all prescription, over-the-counter medicines and vitamins,” Beda continued. “It cannot be used for any Schedule I drugs, which are all illegal to possess. It can also not be used for needles, oxygen tanks or radioactive medication typically used for chemotherapy.”
Beda is heading up the program and said the goal is to simply make it easy for people to properly dispose of unwanted drugs, whether it is unused marijuana purchased by a visitor from another state or a local family with a medicine box full of expired pills.
Marijuana can’t fly home, so…
“Both boxes are designed to properly dispose of medication and marijuana,” Beda explained. “When tourists over-buy marijuana, they usually discard it in hotel trash cans or leave it in hotel rooms where cleaning crews have access to it. This presents a problem for the staff and any workers under the age of 21. The marijuana box is designed to give tourists a safe and secure place to discard their unused marijuana products.”
Marjorie Trautman of the Mt. Crested Butte police department said that community is also making it easy for people to dispose of drugs. “An amnesty box is provided in Mt. Crested Butte for the convenience of visitors, guests and residents,” she said. “Rather than leaving unwanted product or paraphernalia in hotel rooms and rented units, or attempting to travel across state lines in possession of illegal substances, the amnesty box provides a safe and convenient way to dispose of these items. Additionally, other drugs and medications, prescribed or otherwise, are accepted for proper disposal.”
Beda said the marijuana box was a success this past summer. “As the busy season dropped off, so did its use, but we anticipate it will be used successfully again this ski season,” he said. “The marijuana box has seen all the typical products that are carried at local dispensaries. We have received edibles, bud, hash oil and pipes used to smoke it.” Since the inception of the marijuana drop-box, approximately five ounces have been collected.
The marijuana from the drop-box is sealed and taken to Gunnison to a special incinerator recently purchased by Gunnison County Substance Abuse Prevention Project (GCSAPP). The prescription drugs are sealed then shipped to the federal Drug Enforcement Agency for proper disposal.
If you had an idea to take some legal Colorado marijuana home to a state where it isn’t legal-don’t. You can get in big trouble. To help you avoid that, another amnesty box is located in the Gunnison-Crested Butte Airport.
According to Gunnison Police Department chief Keith Robinson, that box hasn’t seen a lot of use. The department has only emptied it twice, with the first pickup in July.
“Total removal for both pickups was .8 pounds,” Robinson said, noting that the weight includes paraphernalia, containers, drugs and packaging.
Where are they?
The marijuana box is located in the lobby of the Marshal’s Office/KBUT. The drug drop-box is located in a secured part of the Marshal’s Office. The marijuana box is “self-use,” meaning anyone can walk into the lobby and use it. Prescription and over-the-counter medicine is given to any of the officers or the office manager who then drops it into the secured box located in the Marshal’s Office.
“They are both anonymous,” emphasized Beda. “If persons choose, they can remove the labels from the prescription bottles or place all the medication in a zip-lock baggie. There are no records kept of individuals who drop off medication or types of medication. Both programs are meant to be anonymous.”
The marijuana box is open when the lobby to the Marshal’s Office/KBUT is open, usually 7:30 a.m. to at least 3:30 p.m. Prescription and over-the-counter medication can be dropped off Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. A request to drop off medication after normal business hours needs to be made by calling the Crested Butte Marshal’s Office or Gunnison Dispatch.
“The Mt. Crested Butte box is located inside the Mt. Crested Butte Town Hall,” added Trautman. “The Mountain Express Condo Loop buses access Town Hall from the base area Transit Center via the Columbine and Snodgrass Trailhead shuttles. The Town of Mt. Crested Butte is grateful to the Gunnison Valley Substance Abuse Prevention Project (GCSAPP) for providing the amnesty box.”