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Anti-drug speakers spread the message

March 04, 2002|BY RICHARD F. BELISLE

Sponsors of a drug awareness workshop Saturday said they were disappointed so few people turned out after they decided to hold it on a day when many people are off work.

Fewer than 20 people attended the event at Christ's Reformed Church at 130 W. Franklin St. Its focus was educating the community about drug abuse, said Carolyn W. Brooks, coordinator of the local HotSpot Communities program.

Speakers included Courtney Hall-Washington, assistant director of Oak Hill House, an adolescent group home in Clear Spring, and John Murray, a member of the Hagerstown Police Department's street crimes unit.

"Last year, we had about 100 people show up," Brooks said.

The sponsors decided to hold the workshop on a Saturday this year so more people could come, she said.

"I'm not discouraged," Brooks said. "It's our position that it's important to get new information on drug abuse out to the community."

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Of special interest this year, she said, is the emergence of the use of the drug Ecstasy among young people in the Hagerstown area.

Ecstasy comes in tablet form and was described by Murray as a mind-altering synthetic drug. He said it is becoming popular because it brings a feeling of euphoria among users.

"It keeps you hopped up and magnifies everything you do," Murray said.

The drug is starting to make inroads in the Hagerstown area, he said.

He said Ecstasy is often found at "raves" - dances that go on all night. Raves are usually held in rural areas, in out-of-the-way places where they aren't noticed, he said.

Murray said as far as he knows there have been no rave parties in the Hagerstown area.

"They've had them around Charles Town (W.Va.) and in Pennsylvania," he said.

He said Ecstasy has taken over from crack cocaine as the drug of choice among users in Florida. Most of it is manufactured in Europe, Australia and Canada, he said.

While crack is still the drug of choice in Hagerstown, marijuana is making a comeback as a social drug in the city, Murray said.

He said police make from 15 to 20 felony drug arrests every month, "and it's not the same people.

"If the product is here they'll come to get it from Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia," he said.

Asked about heroin use from a member of the audience, Murray said it is starting to show up more in the city.

"Chambersburg (Pa.) had a big problem with heroin. It was a hot market there, but not here. Now we're starting to see it more," he said.

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