CARYVILLE, TN. (WLAF)- Methamphetamine, while not a new a drug, is still a popular drug.

That is according to statistics provided by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation at last week’s school resource officers and administrators’ training.

The daylong seminar was hosted by the Eighth Judicial District Attorney’s Office and STAND (Schools Together Allowing No Drugs).

“It (Methamphetamine) used to be homemade, and now it’s being shipped in,” said Michael Bleakley, TBI forensic scientist supervisor. “Shipping the drug in is cheaper,” he said.

In 2022, of the drugs tested by the TBI lab, 42 percent of them were Methamphetamine.

Fentanyl and its variations showed up 22 percent of the time. Cannabis rounded out the top three substances at 10 percent. Cocaine, Heroin, Xylazine, an animal sedative, were also found, he said.

Speaking to school personnel and school resource officers, TBI Agents explained the testing time for substances sent to their lab. Currently, the TBI lab has an eight month backlog of evidence to be tested, Bleakley said. When dealing with school related offenses, that turnaround time is not helpful, he said.

Bleakley suggested schools purchase $37 Hemp/ CBD field tests kits. These will yield results school staff needs in order to make disciplinary decisions, he said.

Testing in the TBI lab can take anywhere from 15 minutes to a day and a half, once it clears the backlog, he said.

The kits are the “best way to deal with school suspensions,” he said.

And while they are helpful in a school setting, they are not admissible in court if legal charges against the juvenile arise, according to Eighth Judicial District Attorney Jared Effler.

Michael Bleakley, TBI forensic scientist supervisor was among the guest speakers at last Friday’s event.

What to do with substances found on campus

If school staff comes across a white powder in a classroom, Bleakley’s advice was “Don’t freak out. Don’t let your students freak out.”

Instead, he recommended covering skin, not touching the substance and calling authorities.

In the event school staff touches the unidentified white powder they should wash their hands with soap and water but avoid hand sanitizer. That will cause the substance to dissolve and be absorbed into the skin quicker, he said.

And while Fentanyl has been touted as being highly lethal in even small doses, Bleakley said the drug is “not as potent” as it has been made out to be. He cited a coworker coming in contact with a large amount and not being harmed.

Marijuana and teens

Marijuana is the most popular drug of choice for high school students,” according to Regina Aksanov, TBI forensic scientist supervisor. If a student uses marijuana, the signs could be obvious she said. They could present with slurred speech, physical movement could be slow and the odor might linger, she said.

Marijuana can now be found in vape liquid and dab pens. Dab pens work with pure concentrates as opposed to vape pens that require cartridges.

The dab pens can be “pretty potent,” according to Bleakley. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED 8/4/2023- 6AM)