GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Law enforcement agencies in West Michigan are getting ready for National Drug Take Back Day on Saturday. Police and health officials will be spending the day removing unwanted pills from the community.

“I think if they could do it monthly, that would be important, but if they’re doing it at all, that’s a great thing,” said Andrew Cloutier, the owner of Ada Village Pharmacy.

About two months ago, Cloutier and the Kent County Health Department partnered together to participate in a daily drug take back program. His pharmacy takes anything but controlled medications out of the hands of people who don’t need them and out of the streets every day, like vitamins and over-the-counter medications.

“Within the first few days, we were able to pull in a 5-gallon bucket full of unused medications that people had just lying around the house,” he said. “They’re not putting it in the ground, they’re not putting it in the garbage cans, they’re not putting it in the toilet like they used to do.”

He said when not disposed of properly, “birds and animals, and all kinds of critters can get to them and then spread them throughout the community.”

National Drug Take Back Day takes both controlled and uncontrolled medications, like fentanyl and morphine. Last year, over 792 tons of medications and medical supplies were collected and disposed of by law enforcement agencies across the nation. Sgt. Tim Wierenga with the Kentwood Police Department said it’s necessary for communities to have these designated days.

“This program has really developed because people don’t know what to do with those leftover medications that’s in their cabinets and cupboards,” said Wierenga. “We have our drug take back box out front all year long, but (this) is really the big push to remind people to make sure they get those leftover drugs and prescriptions out and get them to a safe place, so they don’t get into the wrong hands accidentally.”

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