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Saturday's National Drug Take Back Day to include vape devices and cartridges

Posted at 6:02 PM, Oct 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-25 21:10:59-04

The growing number of vaping-related illnesses and deaths prompted changes to drug take back events.

Traditionally, the Drug Enforcement Administration focused on collecting unused prescription pills, but Saturday their national program is being expanded to include e-cigarette devices and cartridges.

It comes after 1,604 vaping-related illnesses and 34 deaths were reported, according to the CDC.

"At this point, I don't think any agency knows for sure the cause of the illnesses. So for prevention and safety DEA decided let's take it back if people are willing to give them back," said Paul Maxwell, Assistant Special Agent in Charge at the DEA's Milwaukee District Office.

"If you're buying these cartridges on the black market, either the internet or from an individual, it's like Russian roulette. You might not know what you're getting," said Maxwell.

Just like the medications you can turn in vaping products no questions asked. You just have to make sure the device does not have lithium-ion batteries.

In 2018, Wisconsin turned in about 128,000 pounds of unused medications.

Advocates say safe disposal not only deters addiction and overdoses, but it also helps the environment.

"When you flush your unused medicine down the toilet it goes straight into Lake Michigan because MMSD and any sewage treatment plant isn't equipped to take that medicine out of the water," said Jon Richards, Coalition Director of Take Back My Meds MKE.

The DEA says all of the medications and vaping products collected will be destroyed.