Pubdate: Tue, 08 Nov 2005
Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer (WA)
Copyright: 2005 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Author: Rachel La Corte, AP


OLYMPIA -- A state task force has generated several ideas on how to 
fight methamphetamine use in the state, including making it a crime 
to possess large quantities of precursor chemicals used to make the 
highly addictive drug.

The 28-member task force, called "Operation: Allied Against Meth," 
was appointed in August by state Attorney General Rob McKenna. A 
preliminary report was released to The Associated Press Monday; a 
final review and recommendation will be made at a public hearing Wednesday.

The task force includes state and local law enforcement officials, 
prosecutors, business and community representatives, treatment 
providers and elected officials.

The recommendations from the group -- which split into three 
subcommittees to deal with cleanup, prevention and criminal sanctions 
- -- will be rolled into an omnibus bill to be introduced in next 
year's legislative session.

Among the recommendations, the task force subcommittees called for:

Creation of a crime, separate from manufacturing, for possession of 
large quantities of precursor chemicals used in the manufacturing process.

Parity on penalties in Washington with Oregon and Idaho, so that meth 
traffickers and cooks aren't moving back and forth across state lines 
to avoid stricter sanctions.

Less time off for good behavior -- 33 percent instead of 50 percent 
- -- for offenders sentenced under the Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative.

A push for secure funding for state and local health departments to 
ensure cleanup at meth labs.

"This is not a quick fix," McKenna said. "These are longer-term 
approaches. This problem didn't pop up overnight, so it's going to 
require a sustained effort to beat it."

Washington state ranks near the top of the country in the number of 
meth labs raided annually, though progress is being made. The state 
Ecology Department received reports of 1,337 methamphetamine lab 
sites across the state last year, a 9.6 percent decrease from 2003, 
when 1,480 sites were reported. The decrease this year has gone even 
further. To date, the department has received reports of 738 labs.

The highest concentrations of labs were in Pierce, King, Snohomish 
and Thurston counties.

Meth is a highly addictive stimulant cooked from various chemicals 
that are corrosive, carcinogenic, flammable and produce toxic gases.
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MAP posted-by: Beth