Illegal drug use rises in Rexburg


This story was written by Allison Garrett

Despite being named the safest city in Idaho in 2016 by homesnacks.net, students and residents in Rexburg are buying and selling drugs.

Drug related crimes in Rexburg have increased during the last six months, according to analysis of the Rexburg Police Department’s Daily Press Report.

From September to November of last year, there were only 15 controlled substance crimes, but from December to February of this year, there have already been 27, according to police reports.

“We see a lot of use, and we see a lot of individuals out selling,” said Captain Randy Lewis of the Rexburg Police Department.

Around 35 percent of adult drug and narcotic arrestees were 18-24 years of age in 2015, according to the Idaho Uniform Crime Report.

Lewis said the most common drugs being used are marijuana, methamphetamine and Ritalin.

“On any given day in Idaho there are 70,768 marijuana users and 30,990 individuals who abuse prescription medications,” according to northpointrecovery.com, a drug rehabilitation center.

Lewis said a medical student working as an intern at Madison Memorial Hospital was recently caught writing fake prescriptions and selling oxycodone.

TANNER ROBINSON | Scroll Photography

“He was going all over with these drugs, so we got a warrant for him and his wife, and we were looking for him, but Idaho Falls also had a warrant for him, so when he went down there, they arrested him, and he is currently in jail,” Lewis said.

Although Rexburg sees more common drugs, Lewis said drugs like black tar heroin and cocaine are also being used.

“We are not exempt from any of these drugs,” Lewis said.

Lewis said police catch drug dealers by finding and working with people that may work with them, or by buying   from them.

“You catch somebody using marijuana, and sometimes they want to work deals, so we offer them deals, but they are still responsible for the consequences of using,” Lewis said. “But if they are willing to help catch the dealer, we will maybe give them probation or a lesser sentence.”

Lewis said the police then set up what they call a controlled buy and record the person buying drugs from the dealer, and then the police will arrest them.

“Although drugs are being used by students in their apartments, some roommates might not report drugs because they don’t know what drugs look or smell like,” Lewis said.

Lewis said that students and Rexburg residents are not the only people they arrest in Rexburg. Police also arrest people with medical marijuana cards.

“We might stop someone from Montana and we can smell marijuana in their car,” Lewis said. “But Idaho doesn’t honor those medical marijuana cards like Montana does.”

Lewis said that when they admit to having marijuana with a medical marijuana card, the police arrest them, and they are booked into jail.

As of January 2017, 29 of the 50 states have legalized either the medical or recreational use of marijuana, according to governing.com.

Lewis said he and the Rexburg Police Chief, Shane Turman, visited Governor Butch Otter, and Otter told them that as long as he is the governor of the state of Idaho, marijuana will not be legalized.

Tyler Henrie, a sophomore majoring in general studies, said he recently read about a study that links drug use to entertainment.

“There’s this study on rats where they’re given nothing but water with cocaine in it, and of course the rats choose to drink the cocaine,” Henrie said. “But if you give the rats different toys and things, they prefer to play with the toys than do the drugs.”

Henrie said he thinks the study is interesting, but he does not think entertainment is the only issue.

“Obviously people do drugs everywhere, even in bigger cities than Rexburg, where there are lots of people and lots of entertaining things to do,” Henrie said. “There are other things that have to be considered besides just entertainment for rats.”



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