Pubdate: Wed, 13 Jul 2005
Source: Montgomery Advertiser (AL)
Copyright: 2005 The Advertiser Co.
Note: Letters from the newspaper's circulation area receive publishing priority
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


If a majority of local law enforcement officials say methamphetamine is the 
biggest illegal drug problem they face, why is the national drug use 
prevention effort focused most on marijuana? That seems a dangerous 
disconnect between policy and reality that has serious implications for law 
enforcement and the safety of the public.

A new survey conducted by the National Association of Counties polled law 
enforcement agencies in 500 counties in 45 states. Fifty-eight percent of 
those agencies ranked methamphetamine as their worst illegal drug problem. 
Less than 20 percent ranked marijuana first.

The survey found that 70 percent of the law enforcement agencies said 
methamphetamine use was driving up the number of burglaries and robberies. 
It was deemed the top illegal drug problem in every region of the country 
except the Northeast.

Alabama officials are all too familiar with the problems of 
methamphetamine. A new law aimed at limiting access to a basic ingredient 
used to make methamphetamine took effect this month, and law enforcement 
officials are hopeful that it will slow the spread of the drug by making 
its production more difficult.

The drug may be easily made with readily obtainable items, particularly 
cold medicines that contain pseudoephedrine, which any pharmacy or grocery 
store sells.

The new law limits the amount of such medications an individual may 
purchase and requires that these medications not be kept on open shelves. 
Purchasers must sign and present identification for the products.

Federal official defend the emphasis on marijuana by noting that it is the 
most commonly used illegal drug. That's true. However, its use -- although 
certainly a concern -- does not routinely lead to the kinds of problems 
that methamphetamine use does.

"We do have to keep all drug threats in context, which means you can't 
ignore marijuana," said David Murray, a policy analyst for the Office of 
National Drug Control Policy.

No one's suggesting that, but a review of policies in light of the growing 
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom