MARSHFIELD – Police Detective Jason Foemmel showed a group of about 50 city residents a photo of a disassembled flashlight. The flashlight, used as a hiding place for marijuana, was seized by Plover police in a drug arrest.

Unique hiding places for marijuana, like the flashlight or the inside of a dry erase marker, were a small part of a presentation given at the Eagles Club Tuesday evening in an effort to educate the city’s parents and other residents about drugs in the community. Foemmel, and Marshfield Detective Derek Iverson, both drug investigators for the city, and Officer Chris Hasz with his canine partner Steffi all took part in the Marshfield Clinic and Marshfield Area Coalition for Youth’s speaker series. The Coalition for Youth’s goal is to prevent substance abuse. 

Here are some of the key points the officers made about drugs in Marshfield:

1. Marijuana legalization in western states has effects in central Wisconsin. 

The drug comes in more forms than ever, Foemmel said. People are bringing marijuana back from Colorado, Washington and other states that sell it legally in the form of fruity cereal, candy squares, brownies, chocolate and liquid marijuana. Police are even encountering marijuana wax — a potent, waxy substance that is easily hidden, Foemmel said.

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Some 195 pounds of prescription drugs collected at a site in central Wisconsin during a drug collection event in 2011. Prescription drug abuse continues to be a large concern in the Marshfield area. (Photo: USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)

2. Prescription opioids are still rampant, and most of them are prescribed. 

Only about 4 percent of abused prescription drugs comes from drug dealers. Most of it comes from illegal users’ parents, grandparents or other family members, Iverson said. 

The prescriptions also can be written for the users themselves. There are about 6.2 million prescriptions written in Wisconsin each year, Iverson said. And many opioid addictions start out with prescriptions, then users move to heroin when they can no longer get prescription pills.

All Wood County law enforcement agencies offer a place to drop off unwanted prescription drugs during business hours.

3. Heroin has become popular because it’s cheaper than prescription pills. 

Users and dealers can purchase 250 doses of heroin in Chicago, bring it back to Marshfield, add another substance that looks the same, such as baking soda, to stretch that into 500 doses and sell those for $25,000 in Marshfield, Iverson said. Users will sell heroin to pay for their own habit, Iverson said.

Although people may start out using the heroin by smoking or snorting it, most heroin users end up injecting it because they don’t want to waste any of it, Iverson said. The Marshfield Police Department offers a place to drop off used needles.

4. Methamphetamine use is returning to the Marshfield area. 

The problem is not as bad as it was a few years ago, Iverson said, but may be on the rise. People in the Marshfield area are traveling to Minnesota to purchase methamphetamine because it’s less risky to buy it than make it, Iverson said.

Karen Madden: 715-424-7308, karen.madden@gannettwisconsin.com; on Twitter as@KMadden715.

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