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updated: 8/24/2011 4:54 PM

Students inspired new drug-disposal law

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Gov. Pat Quinn on Wednesday signed a law authorizing local police departments to collect and safely dispose of unwanted prescription drugs.

The law was partly inspired by Antioch High School students who had sought to create a local drug-disposal program. A similar effort launched a few years ago at downstate Pontiac Township High School.

Under the law, people will be able to drop off unwanted prescription medication at participating police stations throughout the state. The medicines then will be incinerated in a way that meets Illinois Environmental Protection Agency standards.

That will keep the drugs out of landfills, water supplies or the hands of people who'd use them illegally.

Participating departments will receive grants from a new household pharmaceutical disposal fund to cover the disposal costs. Those grants will be funded by $20 court fees assessed following drug-related criminal convictions.

Republican state Rep. JoAnn Osmond championed the legislation in the state House. Republican state Sen. Suzi Schmidt of Lake Villa introduced the proposal in the Senate.

Osmond was among the lawmakers and advocates who attended Wednesday's bill-signing ceremony in Chicago. Students from Antioch and Pontiac Township high schools attended, too.

Osmond praised the students for developing the program and then seeking a statewide funding mechanism.

"They have followed this all the way through," she said. "Those kids were so proud today."