First responders often brace for an uptick in overdoses over the holidays.

But the spike in Summit County didn’t happen this year.

On Christmas, only two people — both men, one from Macedonia, the other from Akron’s Kenmore neighborhood — were treated in hospital emergency rooms for accidental overdoses, according to Summit County Public Health.

And overdoses for the seven days stretching over Christmas — between Dec. 21 and Dec. 27 — edged down to 25 compared with 28 and 30 overdoses over the previous two weeks.

The numbers reflect a general downward trend in hospital-treated overdoses here in 2018 as the opioid crisis in Summit County has expanded to include a resurgence of methamphetamine and cocaine.

Akron, meanwhile, has apparently gained a regional reputation as a source of the illegal drugs.

This week, The Pittsburgh Post Gazette published a lengthy story about how crystal meth has overtaken illegal drug use in parts of that state.

In the report, the police chief in Dubois, Pa. — a town of about 7,800 people 156 miles east of Akron — singled out the Rubber City as a source of drugs there.

"We're getting a lot of local people going down to Akron, Ohio. That's a big hot spot," DuBois’ Blaine Chief Clark told the newspaper,.

Earlier this year, law enforcement and prosecutors in West Virginia also singled out Akron as a source of illicit drugs poring into their communities, too.

Akron police, often working with federal officials, have broken up several drug distribution rings here this year.

And in March, authorities made the biggest crystal methamphetamine bust in state history, seizing about 142 pounds of the drugs from a warehouse in nearby Boston Heights.

Federal investigators said in court records the warehouse was a processing plant for making meth, a sort of joint venture between locals and Mexicans.

As public health, law enforcement and people in the recovery community continue to work against the use of illegal drugs, Ohio in 2019 will continue to ramp up state-sanctioned medical marijuana.

State officials say doctors have submitted nearly 4,500 recommendations in the medical marijuana patient and caregiver registry for Ohio.

The program, which was supposed to lift off this year, has been delayed.

But the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program this week said 3,036 people had activated their registry cards, which will allow them to buy marijuana from state-licensed dispensaries.

The dispensaries — including two in Akron and one in Cuyahoga Falls — are expected to open in coming weeks and months.

If you are interested in using medical marijuana, go to medicalmarijuana.ohio.gov for more information about what medical conditions qualify, where to find a prescribing doctor and how to register as a user.

 

Amanda Garrett can be reached at 330-996-3725 or agarrett@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @agarrettABJ.