Pubdate: Wed, 30 Nov 2005
Source: Daily Iowan, The (IA Edu)
Copyright: 2005 The Daily Iowan
Author: Michelle Brooks
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


While Iowa law-enforcement officials continue to battle the 
methamphetamine epidemic by busting labs and jailing producers, the 
federal and state governments recently began tackling the issue with 
a massive public-awareness campaign.

Last week, federal and state officials, including Gov. Tom Vilsack, 
showed off a series of 30-second television advertisements that 
expose the effects of the highly addictive drug on users, their 
children, and their surrounding neighbors to 23 cities nationwide, 
including Des Moines and Cedar Rapids.

The campaign's two main themes - "So, Who Has the Drug Problem Now?" 
and "End Meth in Your Town" - aim to inform people about the effects 
of meth on their families and communities. The production of meth 
requires mixing highly toxic and inflammable ingredients, which can 
release harmful fumes and vapors into the air - and sometimes result 
in explosions.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, 
methamphetamine remains the principal drug in Iowa.

There have been 619 reported meth-lab incidents in Iowa in 2005, 
according to the Division of Narcotics Enforcement in the state 
Department of Public Safety. There were 1,253 reported to the 
narcotics agency in 2004.

"It has been a problem in the past," said Iowa City police Sgt. Doug 
Hart. "I've seen a significant drop-off."

The decrease in lab busts can be attributed to a law passed by the 
state Legislature in May, Hart said. The measure put cold medicines 
with pseudoephedrine - an ingredient in meth production - behind the 
counter. It also limited the quantity that could be purchased and 
required that the buyer produce photo identification.

In the first five months following the law's passage, there was an 80 
percent reduction in meth labs, said Dale Wooley, an associate 
director of the Iowa Governor's Office of Drug Control Policy.

Most meth labs are exposed through public reporting, so lawmakers 
feel that familiarizing citizens with information regarding the drug 
and the signs of users is important.

"Over the last several years, Iowans have been educated on what a 
meth lab is," Wooley said. "Anybody who has a suspicion should 
contact law enforcement."
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman