A prescription drug drop box will be installed outside of the Laguna Beach Police Department probably by the end of April, Capt. Jason Kravetz said Tuesday.
Laguna Beach High School students came up with the idea and convinced the City Council at the March 19 meeting that a drop box would be a valuable tool in the battle against prescription drug abuse in Laguna.
"We are involved in a community service group called LPDA — Laguna Prescription Drug Awareness," student Cyanna Atkinson said. "We have teamed with the police department and Det. [Larry] Bammer to stop the growing problem of prescription drug abuse in South Orange County — one person dies every 19 minutes in the United States from prescription drug abuse."
The group proposed the drop box so people can anonymously dispose of the drugs without harming the environment or getting it into the wrong hands, Atkinson said. No questions asked.
Senior Ryan Cook said one reason for the prevalence of prescription drug abuse in South County is the affluence.
"We are a very wealthy area," Cook said. "There is a lot of money to make in the underground market."
Another reason is people don't know what to do with their drugs and just leave them laying around in an open house, Cook opined.
That can be avoided by securing the drugs in a fire-safe locked box, the students said.
Nathanial Colburn, a junior at the high school, said the permanent installation of a secure drop box at the police station would give the public an accessible location for disposal of unwanted drugs at any time, which some people are willing to do.
Last year the student group collected 250 pounds of prescription drugs in just two Drug Take-back Days in the district parking lot.
There is a precedent for the drop boxes, said junior Garrett Burke, who reported that Dana Point has a drop box and that police department considers it useful.
"A drug box is important because many [people] resort to throwing the pills down the drain or flushing them," student Chloe Jackson said. "Pills in the water filtering systems kill the algae that cleanse the water."
Councilwoman Toni Iseman said the problem is not just illegal drugs.
"Flush hormones and the fish begin to look strange," Iseman said.
Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Pearson sponsored the student's presentation.
"I want to thank you for bringing this to our attention," Pearson said. "I am really proud of all of you and what you are trying to do."