Pubdate: Tue, 15 Feb 2005
Source: Messenger-Inquirer (KY)
Copyright: 2005 Messenger-Inquirer
Author: James Mayse, Messenger-Inquirer
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


FRANKFORT -- Surrounded by hundreds of police, firefighters and
representatives from substance abuse treatment groups, Gov. Ernie
Fletcher and a U.S congressman made their case Monday for passage of
two bills that would, they say, curb methamphetamine production in

Leslie Gibson, who is from the Manchester area, participates in an
anti-methamphetamine rally Monday at the Civic Center in Frankfort.
Photo by AP

Fletcher and 5th District U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers spoke at a rally on
behalf of Senate Bill 63, which would require people purchasing
products containing pseudoephedrine -- such as Sudafed -- to buy the
products from behind the counter at pharmacies. The bill also creates
stronger penalties for people who make methamphetamine near children.

Senate Bill 63, which passed the state Senate on Friday, is one of
Fletcher's legislative initiatives.

The rally was organized by Operation UNITE, which works to battle
methamphetamine through police action, treatment and education in 29
counties in southern and eastern Kentucky.

Fletcher and Rogers also spoke in favor of House Bill 343, which would
attempt to regulate drugs bought by state residents through Internet
pharmacies. Rogers said everyone has a stake in curbing
methamphetamine production.

"Our dads, our moms ... our children are dying at the hands of these
drugs, and it's time for this madness to stop," Rogers said Monday at
the Frankfort Civic Center. He also cited the story of a Kentucky
child who was injured by anhydrous ammonia fumes after stumbling
across a meth lab.

"It's no secret, and we need to lay it on the top of the table for the
world to see, and that's what you're doing here today," he said.

Methamphetamine addiction, Rogers said, "is the worst epidemic facing
the entire state that I've ever seen."

"We're not going to stand by and allow drug dealers to control our
destiny any longer," he said. "The communities we live in belong to
us, and we're going to take them back."

Fletcher said the state has taken other measures to curb meth, such as
creating the state Office of Drug Control Policy. Fletcher also
mentioned his "Recovery Kentucky" initiative, which would create up to
10 substance abuse treatment centers across the state for people who
are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless.

Meth labs, Fletcher said, have been found in 89 of the state's 120
counties. Methamphetamine has "taken the lives of many people who
never had the potential to be all they could be," Fletcher said. "It's
high time we address it. ... We will deal with this problem, and we
will conquer this epidemic."

A similar behind-the-counter law for pseudoephedrine was passed in
Oklahoma, which resulted in a 45 percent decrease in meth lab
discoveries, Fletcher said.

The Senate bill is being supported by Rep. Rocky Adkins, a Sandy Hook
Democrat. The Senate bill will be posted to the House judiciary
committee "immediately," Adkins said, and House Bill 343 will be heard
in committee this week.

"I'm here today to show this is not a partisan issue," Adkins said.
Sen. Tom Jensen, a London Republican and co-sponsor of Senate Bill 63,
said Monday's rally was expected to draw between 2,000 and 3,000 people.

"All of us here ... are speaking with one voice and one message,"
Jensen said, "and that message is, 'meth makers, get out of Kentucky,
we don't want you here anymore.'"

The rally was attended by Bob Darling, chairman of Community Solutions
for Substance Abuse, an Owensboro organization, and Debbie
Zuerner-Johnson, the group's director.

"Daviess County is one of the hottest areas in the state for meth,"
Darling said. "It impacts the economy of our area, and of course it
impacts the health of our citizens."

Much of the damage methamphetamine does to the user's body is
permanent, Darling said. "This is an issue that, even if we solve it
today, it will be costing (the community) money 20 years from now."

"To solve this issue, it does take everyone," Darling said. "We do
have to unite Kentucky."
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