Synthetic drug changes in SE MO

POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KAIT) - Police in Poplar Bluff said synthetic drugs have been found in convenience stores all over the city. The drugs are not only being found on the streets, they're being found at school.

According to Officer Andrew Cleaveland, School Resource Officer at Poplar Bluff R-1 High School, two students were caught with bath salts on school grounds last year. He said students have been clean so far this year, something he hopes continues.

"We started seeing some of the bath salts and K-2 here at school when it first came out, because it was really popular and at that time it wasn't illegal," said Cleaveland. "Bath salts have become such a bad drug and it has such huge health effects on them that they're actually concerned about the other kids safety as well."

Cleaveland said the school is in the beginning phases of establishing a club against drugs, but nothing solid has been formed at the moment.

Cleaveland said while his school is not alone, he has seen the type of drugs used on campus change.

"The juniors in high school to maybe the second year in college (kid) is kind of the age we're starting to see the popularity with bath salts," said Cleaveland. "The bath salts, they have flashy advertising. It's marketed towards kids. It's marketed to try to get the teenage crowds attention."

Earlier this year, Missouri legislators passed legislation banning the use of synthetic cannabinioids. Missouri is ranked first in the country in the number of deaths associated with synthetic drugs.

"Missouri has historically had a bad history of using methamphetamines. When the state legislators put into legislation to make it so hard to get rid of the methamphetamine, we had a large number of people that were changing drugs," said Cleaveland. "Bath salts became a convenient drug for them because it was legal. It was cheaper to buy. It was available and kids were getting into it because they had been hearing about the high from methamphetamine."

Cleaveland said the school administration changed policies to strengthen regulations on illegal drugs, including synthetics.

According to Poplar Bluff Police Chief Danny Whiteley, synthetic drugs are still sold in many stores under the table and behind closed doors.

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