HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Budget To Cut Funds For Meth Fight
Pubdate: Sun, 24 Jul 2005
Source: Daily World, The (LA)
Copyright: South Louisiana Publishing 2005
Author: Gannett News Service
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


WASHINGTON - The Bush administration's war on drugs is retreating in 
its battle against methamphetamine, an epidemic confronting law 
enforcement agencies from California to New York.

President Bush has proposed gutting funding for some programs and 
slashing spending for others, including programs that anti-meth 
forces deem vital to their efforts.

"If it passes the way it is, it would put us completely out of 
business," said Billy Cook, director of the 14th Judicial District 
Drug Task Force in Tennessee.

The state seized 1,259 illegal methamphetamine labs last year, the 
third highest number of seizures in the country behind Iowa with 
1,300 and Missouri with 2,707.

Steve Dalton, supervisor of an anti-meth task force in southwest 
Missouri, called the administration's proposed cuts "absolutely 
asinine." The task force busted 101 meth labs in a seven-county area last year.

"It is the worst drug problem I've seen," Dalton said of the meth 
trade, "and it continues to grow."

The president intends to eliminate a $634 million grant program for 
state and local police departments and cut anti-drug spending in High 
Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas from $226 million to $100 million.

He also would reduce spending on a Justice Department methamphetamine 
initiative from $52.6 million to $20 million, a 60 percent cut.

Dalton said federal grants pay the salaries of three full-time 
officers assigned to bust meth labs. Without the grants, he said, "We 
could last for about a year and then we would have to shut our doors."

John Horton, associate deputy director for state and local affairs in 
the Office of National Drug Policy, said the administration takes the 
methamphetamine epidemic seriously, budget cuts notwithstanding.

"We've had to make some tough choices," Horton said. "If we had 
unlimited money, it would be different."

He said the administration's strategy focuses on working with law 
enforcement agencies in Asia to disrupt the illegal export of 
pseudoephedrine, one of the main ingredients in meth.

"We think that's where the meth market is particularly vulnerable," 
Horton said. "The most important thing we can do is to make sure the 
labs don't get set up in the first place."

Overall, Bush plans to spend $12.4 billion on the drug war in fiscal 
2006, a 2.2 percent increase over current funding. However, most of 
the additional money is targeted toward intercepting drug shipments 
before they cross the border and toward international programs, such 
as crop eradication.

Bush's budget would:

Eliminate grants to states under the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and 
Communities program, funded at $441 million this year.

Eliminate grants to states under the National Alliance for Model 
State Drug Laws, an organization that has been instrumental in 
helping states draft legislative responses to the methamphetamine crisis.

Eliminate Justice Assistance grants used to bolster 
multijurisdictional anti-drug task forces.

"The Justice Assistance grants constitute the backbone of resources 
for drug task forces in Iowa," said Dale Woolery, associate director 
of the Iowa Office of Drug Control Policy. He said the task forces 
confiscated 268 pounds of methamphetamine last year.

Methamphetamine emerged 10 years ago as a West Coast problem. Since 
then, the meth trade has marched eastward, becoming entrenched in 
rural communities. There were nearly 16,000 methamphetamine lab 
seizures last year, compared with 912 in 1995, according to the Drug 
Enforcement Administration.

The nation's 1.5 million meth addicts represent only about 8 percent 
of the nation's 19 million drug users. However, meth is extremely 
addictive and creates other special problems.

The drug - referred to on the street as crystal, speed, chalk and ice 
- - is manufactured using highly toxic chemicals that can poison the 
environment. Cleaning up a meth lab can cost between $3,500 and $20,000.

"The consequences of (meth) addiction are being felt all across this 
country in a complete drain of resources," said Sherry Green, 
director of the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws.
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