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Marijuana, cocaine are used in county

Marijuana and cocaine are popular among those who use drugs in McDuffie and surrounding counties.

And when local and state authorities discover through various investigations -- often times in undercover ways -- those responsible end up in jail. Those convicted in court of drug charges go to prison.

"It's serious business when you mess with drugs," said Deputy Barry Whitfield of the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department before addressing members of the Thomson-McDuffie Chamber of Commerce on Thursday about a drug awareness program.

Deputy Whitfield said there is a presence of marijuana and cocaine in McDuffie County.

"We try to do what we can do to find those using these drugs and put them in jail," he said during the chamber's program Drugs Don't Work.

Recently, local and state authorities worked jointly on a marijuana find near the city limits of Thomson.

Three patches of marijuana were discovered growing near railroad tracks, off Mesena Road.

Although they weren't able to make any arrests in connection with the marijuana discovery, they did pull up the plants -- some of which toppled 11 feet in height -- thus preventing the marijuana from ever being sold on the streets.

At the time, McDuffie County Sheriff Logan Marshall said it was the largest find in several years.

The marijuana plants had an estimated street value of $100,000.

Deputy Whitfield said marijuana is often referred to as the "gateway drug" because often times it leads to experimenting with other illicit drugs.

"We find that to be true a lot of times," Deputy Whitfield said. "It's not always true, but most of the time we find that persons who have been caught with other drugs started out using marijuana."

Effects of marijuana use start almost immediately, he said.

"Most of the time, the buzz starts taking effect between a minute and 10 minutes after it was smoked," Deputy Whitfield said.

He said the heart beat increases up to 50 percent when someone uses marijuana, and it also alters the way the brain functions.

He added that marijuana is hot and harmful to the lungs. Marijuana contains more than 4,000 chemicals, Deputy Whitfield said.

Some of the slang names of marijuana are: pot, herb, grass, weed, Mary Jane, reefer, gangster, kif and ganja.

Aside from marijuana, cocaine and crack cocaine also cause problems for local law enforcement officers.

"We have our share of that drug in our county, too," Deputy Whitfield said.

Like methamphetamine, cocaine is a highly addictive drug, he said.

"It's a stimulant type drug," Deputy Whitfield said. "The powdered hydrochloride salt form of cocaine can be snorted or dissolved in water and then injected."

Crack is a street name given to the form of cocaine that has been processed to make a rock crystal, that when heated, produces vapors that are smoked.

Deputy Whitfield attributed some of the material shared for this article to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Web posted on Thursday, October 22, 2009

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