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Sunday July 5th, 2015 9:05PM

Diverse panel talks about drugs and the law in Hall County

By Derreck Booth Anchor/reporter
GAINESVILLE - Five panelists ranging from a judge to a psychiatrist, weighed in on the topic of Drugs and the Law in Hall County Thursday night.<br /> <br /> The Drug Free Coalition of Hall County and the Northeast Georgia Medical Center presented the forum at the hospital.<br /> <br /> State Senator Butch Miller of Gainesville was included. Among the information that surprised him at the forum, numbers regarding drug abuse throughout the country and in Georgia.<br /> <br /> He also mentioned the statistics of prescription use, not just abuse.<br /> <br /> "I think we had talked about there was four billion prescriptions last year in the United States, and $320 billion worth of prescription drugs. To me, and to the panel and to the audience, that would clearly indicate that we are, as a whole, an over medicated society," Miller said.<br /> <br /> When asked what panel information surprised him, Drug Free Coalition of Hall County Director J.P. Banks noted the wide range of drugs abused in the county.<br /> <br /> "It was pointed out by various panel members that particularly in Hall County, what we're looking at is multiple drugs of choice, including prescription drug abuse, alcohol and marijuana use, especially among young people." Banks said.<br /> <br /> Angel Randolph, Coalition Chair, said a lot of audience members asked about an increasing need for treatment options in Hall County available to young people.<br /> <br /> "That's something that, as a coalition, we will work to bring awareness about and see if there's something we can do to fix it," Randolph said.<br /> <br /> In addition to Miller, other panelists included Northeastern Judicial Circuit Juvenile Court Judge Cliff Jolliff, Laurelwood General and Addiction Psychiatrist Dr. Vinay Nagaraj, Multi Agency Narcotics Squad Lt. Scott Ware and Lt. Earl Roach, Director of Emergency Preparedness and Safety, and School Resource Officers Director for the Hall County School system.<br /> <br /> Miller said Judge Jolliff made a good point talking about criminal justice reform currently being enacted in Georgia.<br /> <br /> "Incarcerating fewer people brings that expense down, and that money potentially would be available to use for prevention, early intervention and so-forth," Miller said.<br /> <br /> Something that has made headlines in recent years was also discussed. Randolph said Dr. Nagaraj mentioned the increased use of synthetic drugs and the psychotic effects they have on people seeking treatment.<br /> <br /> "They're using synthetics as an option to traditional, for lack of a better word, drugs. There's a greater cost to that, psychologically and physically. He (Nagaraj) talked a little about that, especially with young people as well as with adults. I think that was kind of eye-opening," Randolph said.<br /> <br /> Banks said the coalition has another panel discussion planned for Thursday, September 4.<br /> <br /> "It's going to be addressing marijuana, specifically looking at the effects and approaches for prevention," Banks said.<br /> <br /> <br /> <i>accessnorthga.com's Bryan Pirkle contributed to this story<i>
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