By Jason KUROSU
CV Alliance, which strives to increase community awareness about drug abuse, hosted a parents only meeting at the Crescenta Valley High School library Tuesday night entitled “Current Trends and What to Look For.” Deputy Eric Matejka of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Dept. spoke to parents about what the most popular and typically used drugs are, bringing both his expertise and visual aids, such as drug paraphernalia, to the event.
Though Matejka ran through the gamut of drugs, both legal and illegal, he said that marijuana and alcohol use are what he most frequently sees within the neighborhood.
Matejka covered marijuana extensively, saying that the biggest change in marijuana is the relative strength of THC in marijuana today. Along with increased THC potency, marijuana is being consumed in different forms that accentuate the THC, such as butane hash oil (BHO) or wax. Synthetic marijuana or “spice” is a legal substance that is gaining popularity, though it is banned in some states.
The ease of availability has also undergone a change, as anyone over the age of 18 can receive a letter of recommendation from a doctor for marijuana.
“Originally [medicinal marijuana] was intended for people with cancer or glaucoma, serious illnesses. Nowadays, it’s just about anything you can get a doctor to say. I’ve heard leg pain, I eat too much, can’t eat, can’t sleep, sleep too much. All they have to do is tell that to the doctor and they can get a recommendation letter.”
Matejka said that though there are state issued medical marijuana cards, recommendations from doctors are much easier to obtain.
Matejka covered some legally obtainable substances, like prescription drugs and cough syrup, which are easy for kids to obtain out of medicine cabinets or stores. Matejka urged parents to drop off expired and/or leftover prescription drugs at the CV Sheriff’s Station at its drop box or at drug stores on designated collection days.
“It may not even be your kids that you’re worried about,” said Matejka. “Maybe your friend’s kids who come over.”
Other legal substances Matejka discussed included e-cigarettes, which vaporize “juice,” solutions that come in various flavors. Matejka noted that not all juices contain nicotine, but the lack of regulation makes it unclear what is exactly in each juice.
“The thought initially is that smoking these will get you to stop smoking cigarettes. I’ve talked to a lot of people who say the only difference is they’re smoking both now.”
Matejka also tried to educate the parents about the culture surrounding certain drugs, in addition to the substances themselves. Raves and rave culture were discussed to familiarize the parents with some of the things associated with MDMA or ecstasy use.
“Ecstasy is a social drug,” said Matejka, who described lightshows, PLUR (Peace, Love, Understanding and Respect) and other characteristics of the rave scene.
Though Matejka said he typically does not encounter these drugs in schools around La Crescenta and La Cañada, Matejka also covered some of the harder, more addictive, illegal drugs such as methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and MDPV, a drug commonly found in products referred to as bath salts.
In addition to a slideshow, Matejka illustrated his points with a glass case full of confiscated materials, ranging from pipes to containers for surreptitiously hiding substances to other paraphernalia such as “kandi” bracelets worn at raves. Matejka told the parents to be vigilant in watching for telltale signs of drug use, but to balance that vigilance with communication.
“Look at the totality of the thing. The main thing is to communicate,” he said. “If your kid comes home with one of these bracelets on, that doesn’t mean they’re doing ecstasy. Talk to them. Get the whole picture.”