The growing problem of synthetic drugs will be the focus of Thursday’s program of the Drug Free Dickson Coalition. A representative of the 23rd Judicial District Drug Task Force will speak at the coalition meeting at 6 pm Thursday at Dickson City Hall on East Walnut Street.. Synthetic drugs are chemically laced substances similar to marijuana, cocaine or methamphetamine that are sold over the counter at convenience stores and gas stations under the disguise for other uses such as bath salts or herbal incense. They often contain varying levels of chemicals that can be as much as 500 times stronger than THC, the mind-altering ingredient of marijuana, and can have short-term hallucinogenic effects with long-term health hazards that include damage to kidneys and the liver as well as death in severe cases. While more than 30 states have banned currently known synthetic drugs and President Obama signed a ban on them last July, new chemical compounds are constantly being developed to circumvent the specific bans through new products with other designed uses. The coalition also will be finalizing plans for its semi-annual drug take-back event scheduled for 10 am-2 pm Saturday, April 27, at First Bank on Highway 46. The event offers free disposal of unused or expired prescription and over-the-counter medications. It also will include a shredding truck to destroy any papers that contain personal information that could be used for identity fraud and will be accepting donations for the Dickson County Help Center’s food bank. For more information on the Drug Free Dickson Coalition, contact Coordinator A.J. O’Dell at 686-3128.