A local drug free coalition has issued a 90-day challenge for the communty to reject additive substances.
After nine months of meetings where over two dozen activists and government representatives met under the umbrella of the Soundview Community Drug Free Coalition, the group has embarked on an ambitious initiative called the ‘Soundview Community Drug Free Quarter’.
Supported by a unanimous resolution approved by SCDFC at its Tuesday, January 19 meeting, the initiative calls for government, schools and community-based agencies to take an all-out approach in making the community drug free.
Under the resolution’s terms, the coalition is designating March through June 2016 as the Soundview Community Drug Free Quarter and urging government and community agencies to publicize programs and activities addressing the sale of loose cigarettes referred to as ‘loosies’, K2 synthetic marijuana sales in local convenience stores and pharmaceutical drug abuse.
Anne Johnson, Soundview Resident Council president, said the SRC-sponsored coalition timed the initiative with the end of the school session so they could focus on educating school children grades six to 12 to understand drug dealers are specifically targeting them for early onset drug use.
“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that the K2 being sold in local stores is designed to attract young buyers as evidenced by packaging it with a cartoon picture of Scooby-Doo,” expressed Johnson.
Soundview resident and youth representative for the coalition, Lisi Benedith, recounted a story involving one of her best friends who went into convulsive shock after using K2.
“I couldn’t believe that it was happening right in front of me and to someone I know,” said Benedith. “People need to know how dangerous this drug is.”
SCDFC is also urging city law enforcement agencies to target retail establishments where loosies and K2 additives are known to be sold.
The resolution urges all government agencies to engage in a concentrated campaign during this quarter to warn all senior and community centers of the dangers associated with misusing pharmaceutical drugs and to consider legislation to prevent the marketing of e-cigarettes to young people.
The coalition said it was recently informed by health authorities that e-cigarettes are being produced in vanilla, chocolate, blueberry, menthol, coffee and grape flavors to attract young people.
According to the coalition’s police representatives, heroin is returning to Soundview using distribution methods such as providing freebies to school age students.
“Heroin has a much more devastating effect on adolescents because they do not have fully developed executive function and are inclined towards risky behavior when unsupervised or affected peer pressure,” said Michelle Watt, SCDFC chairwoman and Odyssey House director.
SCDFC will file an application with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in March for official designation as a drug free coalition and if successful, SCDFC will receive a $125,000 per year grant for the next five years.
The coalition’s next meeting is set for 11 a.m. on Tuesday, February 16 at 715 Noble Avenue.