New types of drugs are hitting the streets, and for parents and police, they can be tougher to crack down on. So Tuesday, Crime Stoppers and the Mesa County Sheriff's Office teamed up to help parents know what to look for.
For the new war on drugs, the new enemy is synthetic drugs. Authorities say that the problem with these synthetic drugs is that until recently, many of them were legal and easily found at head shops and gas stations.
The drugs are disguised as potpourri, plant food, bath salts and different types of cleaners, sometimes making them hard to identify. For parents, the more you know, the better chance you have of keeping your kids safe.
Deputy Chad Williams of the Mesa County Sheriff's Office taught the class Tuesday evening, telling parents that these new, synthetic drugs are becoming a bigger problem than common drugs because the sellers market them as normal household items.
"They use the loopholes in the law to make them legal, and so once you identify the active ingredients in the bath salts and make those illegal, what they do is just change a little something about them and make them a different active ingredient, and they try to market it as a different thing," Williams said.
For parents, like Sharon Lassiter, who has a nine-year-old daughter, getting a chance to see up close what some of those new threats are is exactly what brought her to the class.
"What worries me most is just how dangerous it is, just wrong people and making the wrong suggestions," Lassiter said. “I don't know what is going on today. I know what was going on when I was in school, but I'm sure it's completely different."
Authorities say because this new generation of drugs is so new and different, knowing what to look for can be essential for parents in protecting their kids.
"If the packages are marked 'not for human consumption,' that's an obvious thing. If you have bath salts, why put it on there? If it's marked that it's not illegal, why put that on there? Those are the red flags," Williams said.
Williams said parents of middle school kids-- and even students as young as elementary school-- should start keeping an eye out on what kids are bringing home. Also keep in mind that these new synthetic drugs are marketed directly at kids, so don't let the packaging fool you.
Williams also said some of the drugs are so new that as parents come across them, they should turn them in so police can test the ingredients and get them off the streets.