HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Study - Meth Still Country's No 1 Drug Problem
Pubdate: Wed, 19 Jul 2006
Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL)
Copyright: 2006 The Sun-Times Co.
Author: Sam Hananel
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


WASHINGTON -- Meth abuse continues to fuel an increase in crimes like 
robbery and assault, straining the workload of local police forces 
despite a drop in the number of meth lab seizures, according to a 
survey Tuesday.

Nearly half of county law enforcement officials consider 
methamphetamine their primary drug problem, more than cocaine, 
marijuana and heroin combined, the survey of the National Association 
of Counties found.

"Abuse of this highly addictive brain-altering drug continues to 
destroy lives and strain essential county services across America," 
said Bill Hansell, the association's president and commissioner of 
Umatilla County, Ore.

Cold medicine restrictions help

The survey of 500 county law enforcement officials in 44 states 
showed that about half reported a decrease in the number of meth lab 
busts as a result of laws that restrict the sale of cold medicines 
with precursor ingredients used in the manufacture of meth.

That's consistent with federal figures released last month showing a 
30 percent drop in the number of labs seized nationwide. But county 
officials said supply of the drug remains high from superlabs in 
California and Mexico.

About half the counties reported that one in five inmates are jailed 
because of meth-related crimes like robberies and burglaries. Another 
17 percent of counties reported that one in two inmates are 
incarcerated for meth-related activity.

Call to reject Bush proposal

Hansell called on Congress to develop a comprehensive strategy to 
deal with the meth problem that includes more funding for anti-drug 
task forces, drug prevention campaigns, treatment programs and 
cleanup of toxic chemicals used to make meth.

Last month, the White House drug-policy office set a goal to cut meth 
use by 15 percent over the next three years and increase seizures of 
meth labs by 25 percent.

Hansell also urged federal lawmakers to reject a Bush administration 
proposal to eliminate the Justice Assistance Grant program, which 
funds drug task forces around the country.

"It makes absolutely no sense to fight a war on drugs, then reduce 
the funding when you're in the midst of battle," said Oklahoma County 
Sheriff John Whetsel. About 1,000 of the 2,800 inmates in the 
Oklahoma County jail are incarcerated for meth-related crimes, he said.
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