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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Jan. 17, 2003
CONTACT: Bonnie Sue Cooper, Council member, 2nd District-at-Large, (816) 513-1601; Alvin Brooks, Council member, 6th District-at-Large, (816) 513-1602; and Michael Harrington, Drug Enforcement Administration, (816) 746-4962, Ext. 268

Town Hall meeting to address Ecstasy and predatory drugs

The explosive increase in the use of “club” and predatory drugs by Kansas City youth will be the focus of a Town Hall meeting at City Hall Jan. 28. City Council members Bonnie Sue Cooper, 2nd District-at-Large, and Alvin Brooks, 6th District-at-Large, along with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, will co-host the “Operation X-Out” Town Hall meeting at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers, 26th floor, City Hall, 414 E. 12th St.

Parents, high school and college students, educators, community leaders and elected officials are encouraged to attend the event. First-hand information will be provided by parents and young people who have experienced the devastating effects of “club” drugs like Ecstasy and predatory drugs like GHB and Rohypnol. The DEA also will explain increased enforcement operations.

According to the DEA, Ecstasy is one of the most significant drug threats facing young people today. The Drug Abuse Warning Network estimates that nationwide hospital emergency room visits for Ecstasy increased dramatically from 637 in 1997 to 5,542 in 2001.

An annual survey of teen drug use by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation shows that Ecstasy use is cutting across all socioeconomic boundaries in the Kansas City area. The 2000 – 2001 Kauffman Teen Survey, which found overall drug use on the decline, identified Ecstasy use in all geographic areas and at every grade level surveyed. Usage rates for Ecstasy among Kansas City-area teens are at 4.4 percent for eighth-graders, 7.5 percent for sophomores and 9.6 percent for seniors. A national survey by the Partnership for a Drug Free America found that 12 percent of children between the ages of 12 and 18 had used Ecstasy.

“The use of Ecstasy and predatory drugs among our youth is fast reaching epidemic levels,” said John Brown, DEA Deputy Administrator. “Unscrupulous dealers and promoters are marketing Ecstasy, Rohypnol, GHB, Ketamine and other lesser know drugs to young people who often do not truly understand the devastating effects of these drugs,” added Brown.

By bringing everyone together – parents, students, teachers, physicians, club managers, private security personnel, prevention specialists, law enforcement and public officials – event organizers hope solutions for Kansas City and the surrounding communities can be found before the problem reaches epidemic levels.

“These drugs not only propagate rape, but high school and college students have actually died from the drugs,” said Cooper. “We owe it to ourselves and our children to learn about the hazards involved.”

Most of these drugs are inexpensive to manufacture using common ingredients such as cleaning fluids, grain alcohol and solvents that can be found in hardware or drug stores. Some are clear liquids that can be poured into soft drinks or water. “Unsuspecting young people who think they are drinking their own safe drinks they’ve brought to a party can be easy targets. These are the kinds of things we want the community to know,” said Cooper.

During the Town Hall meeting, a panel including Brown; William J. Renton, Jr., DEA St. Louis Division Special Agent-in-Charge; Linnie Cunningham, KCPD Drug Enforcement Unit; DEA headquarters representatives; a GHB rape victim; an emergency room physician and a prevention specialist will give presentations. The discussion will be followed by a question and answer session with the audience.

More than 300 people can be seated in the Council Chambers and an overflow seating area will be set up in the City Hall rotunda for viewing the event on television. The Town Hall meeting will be carried live on the City’s government cable channel, KCCG-TV-2, available to Kansas City residents on Time Warner Cable and on the City’s Web site (http://www.kcmo.org/cco.nsf/web/kccg?opendocument).

“We are expecting a large turnout and we hope to address the many misconceptions surrounding the health consequences of using these hazardous drugs,” said Brooks. “This isn’t just a problem that occurs in other metropolitan areas – it’s right here in Kansas City.”

The Operation X-Out event in Kansas City will kick off with a news conference the day before the Town Hall meeting. The news conference will be at 10 a.m. on Jan. 27 on the eighth floor of City Hall. Members of the panel and other local officials will be available for comment on the escalating use of club and predatory drugs in the Kansas City area. A news conference for college and high school student journalists will be held just prior to the Town Hall meeting.

For more information contact Bonnie Sue Cooper, (816) 513-1601; Alvin Brooks, (816) 513-1602; or DEA Special Agent Michael Harrrington, (816) 746-4962 Ext. 268.

    
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