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“Today, most seventh and eighth graders can tell you what are most of the drugs in circulation, and unfortunately, some speak from personal experience," says Jimmy Nichols, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics. "I know several instances of eighth graders being jailed on drug charges." In a medication-oriented society, the problem isn’t just kids, he says. “A while back, we caught a nurse who was taking up to 35 to 40 hydrocodone tablets per day — she was stealing them from the hospital. Would you want someone in a critical position like that caring for you or your loved ones? Would you want your farm employee taking a lot of pills and driving one of your grain trucks on the highway, or operating a $250,000 combine?”
JIMMY NICHOLS, from left, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, Jackson, Miss., discusses the state’s drug control operations with Hamp Smith and Sam Laird, both from Brookhaven, Miss., and Larry Sasser, Bogue Chitto, Miss.
Other drug problems
Other drugs currently high on the problem list, particularly for young people, he says, include Molly (Ecstasy/MDA/X-tabs), bath salts, and spice/incense.
“Molly pills often have butterflies or smiley faces on them. Kids tell me, ‘Oh, Molly won’t hurt you.’ Up until couple of years ago, we’d hardly heard of it. Now, there are songs about it.
“Its true name is 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, and it is clinically proven to cause permanent, irreversible brain damage. Today, it is often mixed with other drugs or chemicals. It can be in powder form, capsules, or sometimes tablets, and is popular in clubs.”
Molly can cause rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, blood vessel constriction and sweating, and can prevent the body from regulating temperature. Some of the chemicals have been reported to cause intense, prolonged panic attacks, psychosis and seizures. After the chemicals wear off, severe depression can result, and some of the compounds have caused deaths.
Bath salts, now banned in the state, Nichols says, “for a long time were sold over the counter at virtually every convenience store in Mississippi.” They can be smoked, snorted, or injected, and are mostly synthetic, concentrated versions of the stimulant chemical methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), mephedrone and methylone, the chemicals most often found in bath salts.
“They cause reactions similar to the drug PCP — extremely violent behavior. The user is often immune to pain. Anyone on this stuff should be considered very dangerous, because they’re extremely difficult to control.
“Six of our agents, including a Marine Corps close combat instructor, recently had a confrontation with a 140-pound guy high on bath salts, and it took all they had to subdue him and get him in handcuffs.
“Bath salts are often packaged in pretty wrappings that appeal to kids, to make them think it’s not harmful. But it is extremely dangerous.”
Spice/incense is becoming more widely used by kids, Nichols says. “Sales just exploded through convenience stores. Leaves from the Daminia plant are soaked in acetone (fingernail polish remover) and other chemicals, then flavored with strawberry, vanilla, etc.
“Originally marketed as incense/potpourri, kids are buying it to smoke. It looks like marijuana, and on the street is called synthetic marijuana, but it’s probably 20 times worse than marijuana.
“The biggest concern is that it can cause a comatose-like condition, where you have little control of your body. All over the U.S., there are countless cases of it being used on dates to take advantage of girls. Beyond that, there are the long term physical effects of smoking the acetone and other harmful chemicals contained in the mixture.”