Task Force commander talks drug trends in Alabaster

Shelby County Drug Enforcement Task Force Commander Lt. Clay Hammac explains current drug trends during a June 8 community meeting at Alabaster’s Liberty Missionary Baptist Church. (Reporter Photo/Keith McCoy)

Shelby County Drug Enforcement Task Force Commander Lt. Clay Hammac explains current drug trends during a June 8 community meeting at Alabaster’s Liberty Missionary Baptist Church. (Reporter Photo/Keith McCoy)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Parents’ involvement in their children’s lives is the key to preventing youth drug abuse, members of the Shelby County Drug Free Coalition told about 50 people gathered at Alabaster’s Liberty Missionary Baptist Church on June 8.

Through its public outreach program, the Drug Free Coalition, Alabaster Mayor Marty Handlon and Alabaster Police Chief Curtis Rigney visited the church to share current drug trends and ways to combat them.

“Why do our kids think it’s cool? They are bombarded by messages that say ‘It’s not that bad,’” said Shelby County Drug Enforcement Task Force Commander Lt. Clay Hammac. “In time, they start to embrace the image that that’s the good life.”

As the head of the agency working to arrest local drug suppliers, Hammac shared drug trends he has seen specifically in Alabaster.

“This is not focused on national or global or state trends. This is happening right here in our backyards in Alabaster,” Hammac said.

Hammac said the Task Force has seen a rise in the popularity of marijuana “dab,” which is a waxlike, powerful marijuana concentrate made by exposing cannabis leaves to butane fuel. Hammac said dabs typically contain about 70 percent THC, which is much higher than the 3-to-5-percent seen in natural marijuana.

Alabaster has seen a recent spike in the use of crack cocaine, which recently led to the Task Force’s recent “Operation Trifecta,” which resulted in the arrest of several local crack distributors, Hammac said.

“The cocaine we see in Alabaster comes from Mexico through the drug cartels,” Hammac said.

Also popular among local youth is synthetic marijuana and vaping, sometimes using concentrated THC liquid, he said. Synthetic marijuana is made by spraying a synthetic psychoactive chemical onto vegetative material, and can easily lead to severe medical emergencies.

“This is not marijuana by any means. The active components (in synthetic marijuana) are really nothing more than you would find in a can of bug spray,” Hammac said.

Lonnie Layton, a community representative with Bradford Health Services in Alabaster, said parents shouldn’t be afraid to drug test their children.

“As a parent, the main thing I can tell you is to know your kids, send time with your kids and go through their stuff,” Layton said. “Drug test your kids. They are going to be mad at you, but the way I see it is I wasn’t given a child so he would like me. I was given a child so I can raise him right.”