Meth use seemingly down in Franklin County, but other drug usage rising

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FRANKLIN COUNTY, MO (KTVI) – Once considered among the worst in the nation for methamphetamine use, busts for the drug are down in Franklin County. But that doesn't mean the county has solved its illegal drug problem.

Illegal drug usage has become a criminal teeter-totter in Franklin County, Missouri. Drug users are switching one illegal drug for another.

When Franklin County passed a law that said certain cold remedies could only be sold with a prescription, people could no longer walk down the aisle and make a purchase. Those drugs are now kept behind the counter. People had to go to the pharmacists with a doctor’s prescription.

Those cold medicines were used by meth makers. The number of meth lab incidents in Franklin County dropped from 102 three years ago to just 18 in 2015. But other crimes went up, use of heroin and opiates. And the crimes that go with them also jumped.

“We’ve seen an increase in burglaries and thefts in our area, and we’ve made arrests in these cases. The vendors say they’re stealing for money to go to St. Louis to buy heroin,” Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke said.

Pharmacies like Schroeder Drugs in Washington, Missouri have seen one positive.

“It got rid of some of the traffic of questionable individuals we had in the past. They were coming from other communities with a car load of people to buy the maximum of Sudafed,” pharmacist Mark Weidle said.

It looks like Franklin County has lost a title it never wanted, one of the top meth lab counties in the state and the country.