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Meeting on drugs planned for West Virginia

October 25, 2000

Meeting on drugs planned for West Virginia



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Eastern Panhandle law enforcement officials will meet Nov. 6 in Shepherdstown, W.Va., to take a class offered by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency on drugs such as "Ecstasy."

"The need for the conference is that we are really out of the loop, we really don't have a good feel for it," said Charles Town Police Chief Mike Aldridge, a former DEA agent. "We've got to get a handle on it."

He and Martinsburg Police Chief Ted Anderson were talking recently about the drug and decided it was time they and others in law enforcement learned about it.

"It's just something we need to keep abreast of," Anderson said. "There's Ecstasy and other new designer drugs that officers who are working the street probably don't know much about. We've had in the past six months some cases where Ecstasy was seized."

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Aldridge said his limited knowledge of the drug Ecstasy leads him to believe it is like "a stimulant hallucinogen," which is a physiological combination new to him.

"I think the closest you could compare it to is like amphetamine and speed - that's really not what it is but it's the closest comparison you can make to a older class of drugs," Anderson said.

An anti-Ecstasy Web site describes it as "a mind-altering amphetamine that can cause brain damage, nausea, anxiety, paranoia depression, hallucinations and convulsions."

"I called (a friend) at the DEA and told him we wanted to do this class and he said he'd just returned from a four-day conference with the heads of the drug programs in 17 countries,'" Aldridge said. "He said, 'look out, this is going to be the thing of the future.'"

Ecstasy and other "club drugs" often are associated with "raves" - which can be gatherings of young people where that drug and others are consumed with alcohol in all-night parties. But raves are not necessarily a magnet for drugs, Anderson said. And they are not illegal to hold. "Some people say a rave is just a gathering of young people, where there's no drugs or alcohol at all," Anderson said. "But it all depends on the organizer."

A recent rave at the Berkeley Plaza community room was heavily advertised, but caused no problems for law enforcement, he said.

Aldridge said magistrates, prosecutors and law enforcement officials have expressed interest in the class, which can accommodate up to 80 people.

"We're going to do the basic, how to identify it, the pharmacology, what happens to you, the history, how it is distributed, what it sells for, things like that,' Aldridge said.

The session will be held at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

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