SACK presents prescription drug drop box

Substance Abuse Coalition of Kanabec County (SACK) members introduce the new prescription drug drop box available 24/7 in the Kanabec County Jail lobby. Pictured (l-r) Brian Smith, Barb McFadden, Brittany Krippner, Sara Rossow, Jenilee Wallskog, Les Nielsen and Brent Thompson. Photo by Kirsten Faurie.

A safe, confidential and convenient method to dispose of prescription drugs is now available 24 hours a day to Kanabec residents due to the joint efforts of the Substance Abuse Coalition of Kanabec County (SACK) and the Kanabec County Sheriff’s Office.

A secure prescription drop box was installed in the lobby of the Kanabec County Jail on July 9. Residents simply have to bring in their unused prescriptions and place them in the box. Residents will still have to be buzzed into the jail lobby by jail staff. This drop box is not to be used for sharps disposal.

Chief deputy Brian Smith explained there are several benefits of having a secure place consumers can dispose of prescription drugs. One, it reduces access to narcotics and minimizes their misuse. Two, it protects the environment and keeps pharmaceuticals from entering the water supply.

FirstLight Health System pharmacy director Brent Thompson explained it is currently against the law for a pharmacy that distributes the medicine to take those prescriptions back. Once they are given to the consumer, the prescriptions become their responsibility to dispose of. At this time the only persons who can legally collect drugs for disposal are members of law enforcement.

It used to be a common practice to toss unused prescription drugs in the trash or flush them down the toilet. However, even when in the trash, people or unsuspecting pets or children could access them. If flushed, those drugs are released into the environment.

Thompson added that some prescriptions that are past their expiration date can be dangerous and regularly cleaning out your stock of medicines can help prevent dangers associated with expired drugs.

Old prescriptions can also become an easy target for people who abuse prescription medications. Regularly cleaning out the medicine cabinet or keeping medicines locked up reduces the risk of them being misused or abused by house guests.

“I think people are becoming more aware of the issue and want to get rid of their drugs responsibly,” said Kanabec County Commissioner Les Nielsen.

To provide a way for Kanabec residents to dispose of their prescriptions, SACK had been hosting drug take back days twice a year at the Coborn’s pharmacy in Mora. The group collected approximately 100 pounds of drugs each take back day and then took those drugs to be incinerated in a licensed facility.

The drop box is for more than just human prescriptions.

Kanabec County Attorney Barb McFadden said she planned to use the drop box to get rid of her pets’ medicine that she didn’t feel comfortable tossing in the trash.

Purchase of the drop box was made possible through a grant from the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators. The drop box is emptied daily and under jail surveillance to prevent possible theft.

For more information on using, storing, and disposing of prescription drugs safely visit

Kirsten Faurie is the editor of the Kanabec County Times. For questions or comments about this article, contact