TALLAHASSEE - Attorney General Bill McCollum and the Florida Association of School Resource Officers issued a consumer advisory on Feb. 7 warning parents, teachers and school administrators of an alarming trend with dangerous implications for school children.
Federal and state law enforcement agencies are reporting that flavored drugs, particularly methamphetamines, heroin and marijuana, are circulating throughout the United States, often enticing younger children.
These drugs could be ingested by unsuspecting children and are extremely harmful, authorities claim.
"These dangerous drugs are being cleverly disguised and distributed among our children and we must work together to educate them about these very grave risks," McCollum said.
According to recent reports, methamphetamine with added flavors was first noticed on the West Coast, but is rapidly making its way across the country.
Flavors can include strawberry, chocolate, cola and others. The flavoring reduces the bitter taste of the drug and does not affect the potency of the drug. Children may mistake the drug for candy pop rocks.
Another disturbing report is that of "cheese," a form of heroin combined with Tylenol-PM caplets.
Known as "starter heroin," cheese caused the deaths of at least 21 Texas teenagers in 2005 and the number of reported cheese-related arrests has steadily increased.
Cheese is particularly dangerous because it combines the double depressants provided by the heroin and the sleep-inducing medication. Cheese is cheap and highly addictive and law enforcement believes its use and abuse will quickly spread throughout the country.
"This a grave problem and shows to what lengths drug dealers will go," said Robert Tricquet, president of the Florida Association of School Resource Officers. "This is a direct attempt to reach out and attract a younger age group luring them into the drug culture. We must be ever vigilant with our children to protect them from these predators."
Additional reports of gumballs filled with marijuana and narcotics packaged or disguised as candy or other more enticing objects have raised concern from Florida law enforcement and should be considered serious threats by parents, teachers and school administrators. Children should be advised not to accept any candy which may resemble one of these new drug forms and should turn over any in their possession to their teacher, principal or school resource officer. Parents should encourage their children to avoid any participation in distributing or using the drugs, no matter how harmless they may seem, and report any suspicious activity to the appropriate authorities or a trusted adult.