As marijuana laws change, more teens think drugs are safe

Utah police, addiction experts fear shift in attitudes

Published: Saturday, Feb. 8 2014 5:35 p.m. MST

Having an addiction to Oxycontin often leads to a heroin addiction, primarily because of the cost. For example, Burbank said a single Oxycontin pill can sell for about $80 on the street, whereas a balloon of heroin sells for $10.

But with heroin, "the high comes faster and harder," Zidow said. It can often lead to tragic, or even fatal consequences, as was evident with the heroin-induced death last week of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Another reason Burbank believes marijuana usage shouldn't be supported is because it primarily comes from Mexican drug cartels, even when it's grown in Utah.

"The notion that a few nice people are growing it in the backyard and giving it to people, that's bull," he said. "Grows in southern Utah are pushed by the cartels south of the border to bring more marijuana in to meet the demand of these states."

Furthermore, Burbank said when people buy marijuana, there's no guarantee on quality control. And he doubts it can be properly regulated.

"The absolute most controlled substance in the world is prescription medication. And look how that's abused, especially in our state," he said. "We're just naive to think we can bring this in and we can control it, we can make money, we can tax it, same thing with alcohol. How many Utahns drive across the border to Nevada or Wyoming to purchase alcohol because it's so much cheaper?"

And while synthetic drugs such as Spice aren't reaching dangerous levels, local authorities and national experts say the substances are "cause for concern" and their usage needs to be monitored.

Contributing: Emilee Eagar

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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