By Jason KUROSU
Saturday morning saw people flocking to CVS and Rite Aid stores in La Crescenta and La Cañada, not to buy medication but to dispose of it at the bi-annual Drug Take Back Day. Since 2010, the Drug Enforcement Agency has coordinated with law enforcement agencies and other organizations across the country to remove expired and/or unwanted prescription medication from homes.
Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., anyone could anonymously drop off unwanted prescription drugs at four locations throughout the foothills.
At the CVS on Verdugo Boulevard, a woman handed Glendale Police Officer Joe Allen a paper bag filled to the brim with medications. The contents of the bag, along with all the other medications collected throughout the day, would be burned later at another location.
“We don’t ask questions. We don’t look at what people bring,” said Allen. “We’re just trying to minimize availability and access, so there’s less misuse and abuse.”
The Take Back Initiative was started to combat escalating prescription drug abuse and to provide aid for those who might otherwise not know how to dispose of their expired medication. Environmental concerns stemming from medication thrown into the garbage or flushed down the toilet have also spurred the cause.
Though the campaign focuses primarily on prescription drugs, it is encouraged that anyone bring any and all unwanted drugs when Drug Take Back Day occurs every six months, whether that be under or over-the-counter medication or used needles and sharps.
The DEA co-sponsors the event with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Dept., the Glendale Police Dept., Glendale Community College Police Dept. and the Crescenta Valley Drug and Alcohol Prevention Coalition.
Scott Meyer from CVDAPC manned the drop-off site at the La Crescenta Rite Aid.
“We’re trying to keep illicit drugs out of the hands of children,” said Meyer, who had about five containers full of dropped-off medications by noon.
La Cañada’s CVS and Glendale Community College were two other available collection sites operating throughout the day.
Since its inception, Drug Take Back Day has yielded over two million pounds of collected drugs, according to the DEA’s website.
“Every time we think we’re going to get less, we end up getting more and more,” said Allen.