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New law will allow Wisconsin to expand local drug collection programs

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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) -- A new bill signed by the Governor is set to help local governments set up drug disposal programs, but a similar program has been in place for several years in Marathon County.

Local police departments and the county's solid waste department maintain a series of drug drop-off boxes across the area. Marathon County solid waste director Meleesa Johnson says it's worked well for years. "We already accept medications that are over the counter, we accept prescription medications. We accept controlled drugs and uncontrolled ones like antibiotics and those types of things."

Johnson says there's a number of reasons to use the boxes. First, it keeps those prescription drugs out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them. Secondly, it keeps those drugs out of the environment. "Flushing down the toilet, which I remember years ago my mother did, is really just the worst thing you can do for the environment. This is really a sound environmental disposal."

Most of the drugs that people take now are complex organic compounds that don't break down easily. Johnson says that goes double for rural areas with septic tanks. "You almost have this automatic throughput out into the groundwater, and the same applies for folks flushing in the toilet even if they have municipal wastewater services."

The new program will allow the state to offer help to local governments looking to create or expand medication collection services.

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