Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics Lt. Eddie Hawkins speaks at Exchange Club of Columbus Thursday. Hawkins talked drug trends from methamphetamines to opioids, but gave special attention to the increase in more potent forms of marijuana and THC-infused products throughout the country. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff
November 17, 2017 10:35:29 AM
Use of marijuana has increased by 7.5 percent since 2007, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics Lt. Eddie Hawkins said.
The narcotics agent, who has been a trainer for MBN for about 13 years, visited the Columbus Exchange Club Thursday to talk about drug trends in the country and state.
Among the trends was the drastic decrease in locally manufactured methamphetamines in Mississippi since the state legislature passed a law forbidding the sale of pseudoephedrine without a prescription a few years ago.
"I almost worked myself out of a job," he said. "We had a 98 percent decrease in the production of methamphetamine here in the state. So I'm very proud of what we've done to combat that problem."
His descriptions of the growing opioid epidemic were less rosy. Opioid narcotics like heroin are now being imported into the country containing fentanyl, an extremely toxic drug that has caused police officers to overdose simply by accidentally coming into contact with it during drug busts.
"Drug trafficking organizations are now mixing these drugs that are coming out of China in a synthetic form," Hawkins said. "They're mixing it with heroin, methamphetamines. We're now finding it in cocaine and even in marijuana."
But he dedicated most of his time to talking about marijuana and its primary ingredient, THC.
"The marijuana that we're seeing today is nothing like it was back in the '70s," he said. "Back in the '70s when you had Cheech and Chong running around here smoking dope, the THC content in that marijuana was somewhere around 3 to 5 percent. Now we're seeing that THC content upwards around 30 percent."
Manufacturers now remove the THC from marijuana and include it in products from e-cigarettes to edibles, some of which can have a THC content of up to 90 percent.
"So a small amount of this drug can get the user extremely high, higher than we've ever been on marijuana," he said.
Moreover, he said, these edibles are legal in some parts of the country. And with recreational use of marijuana newly legal in some states like Colorado -- which Hawkins called "the craziest thing I've ever heard of" -- edibles and particularly marijuana itself are becoming more common in Mississippi as people who got their hands on them legally in other states are bringing it in.
The common and legal use of marijuana has lead to everything from increased crime rate and increases in DUIs to employers having difficulty finding workers who can pass a drug test.
"It's just opening up a big can of worms in some of these states and created all kinds of problems," he said.
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