Heroin, Cocaine Could Soon Be Disposed Of At Drug Take-Back Sites

By McCarton Ackerman 04/18/16

The proposed drug take-back programs will be encouraged to have an employee on site to help those in need find recovery options in the area.

Heroin, Cocaine Could Soon Be Dispensed At Drug Take-Back Sites
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The New Hampshire Senate is currently reviewing a bill which would allow illegal drugs to be returned at drug take-back sites across the state, AP reports.

The bill, which has already passed the House, specifically mentions heroin and cocaine among the list of illegal drugs that could be returned without fear of criminal prosecution. Amnesty would also be provided for anyone who returns drug paraphernalia. Current laws limit drug take-back programs to prescription and pharmaceutical drugs.

According to the bill text, take-back locations will have a substance abuse counselor on site who can guide people toward recovery and treatment options in their area. This could have a significant impact on addiction treatment. Across the country, last September's national take-back day resulted in approximately 74,000 pounds of opioids being disposed of across the country, or 10% of the total of drugs that were deposited, according to the acting head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Chuck Rosenberg.

Rosenberg told Congress in March that the agency plans to start implementing more drug take-back events across the U.S. The next one is scheduled for April 30 and an additional day is tentatively slated for October. "We don't read labels, we don't take leads off of those things. If you want to bring in BenGay or aspirin or opioids, whatever you want to dump in, we'll take it," said Rosenberg. "But people need to know that they do so anonymously because we have to encourage people to empty out those cabinets."

Law enforcement in New Hampshire have already expressed opposition to the proposal. "You have to be very careful about unintended consequences," Bedford Police Chief John Bryfonski told AP, speaking on behalf of the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police. But the idea of giving amnesty to people who return illegal drugs or paraphernalia apparently already has some support in the state Senate.

Allowing heroin to be returned at a take-back site appears to be a logical step for the DEA and legislators, as they search for ways to alleviate America's opioid epidemic. According to Rosenberg, the U.S. has 5% of the world’s population, but consumes 99% of the world’s hydrocodone. 

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is Saturday, April 30. To locate a collection site, visit the DOJ's website

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.