The battle against the spread of methamphetamine continues to add strategies.
Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna outlined a new program in which officials from our state will join those from Oregon and Idaho to crack down on the spread of the drug that is destroying lives and families at an increasing rate in our culture.
The newly formed Pacific Northwest Pr-Cursor Chemical Committee will work to monitor sales of anhydrous ammonia, red phosphorous and hydriotic acid, ingredients used to manufacture meth.
The move comes on top of state and federal restrictions on allergy and cold medications containing pseudo-ephedrine and ephedrine, the main ingredients used in meth labs to create the stimulant.
The federal government is also tracking sales and imports of those two cold medicine ingredients.
Meth is basically a toxic stew. Its creation in home laboratories creates a vicious, highly addictive drug, and leaves behind a toxic wasteland. It's not an accident that when police bust a meth lab they wear full chemical suits. The work done to create this drug in very dangerous, not only to those who make it, but to anyone unfortunate enough to live nearby.
We salute the leaders of the three states for trying to find a way to track the chemicals before they can be used to make the drug.
McKenna said that police crackdowns have reduced the numbers of labs in homes, garages, motels and other places in the state, but that large quantities of the drugs and chemicals used to make meth are still coming in to Washington.
In Whatcom County, officials recently passed a law that forces property owners to clean up buildings where drug labs and storage areas were operating of face jail time, fines and foreclosure.
To someone not familiar with the growing threat of meth in our communities it may seem that government officials are spending a lot of time and resources on just one drug. After all, there are still many other drugs available -- crack cocaines and heroin and marijuana, for example.
But meth creation and use is exploding in our community. As recently as 2000 there were no known meth labs in Whatcom County. But law enforcement was called in for 28 meth lab incidents in 2004: 17 labs, 10 lab dumps and one arrest for possession of lab equipment, according to the Northwest Regional Drug Task Force.
There were 1,337 labs busted in Washington in 2004.
For some reason Northwest states seem to have more meth production, per capita, than those in other parts of the country.
So any well-reasoned steps taken to fight the spread of the drug -- both its creation by criminals looking to make quick money through chemistry and its use by our citizens -- is much appreciated. Since meth is created using chemicals that must be purchased, there is a real possibility that efforts like the new tri-state committee can help stop it.
Source: "Our View" .. The Bellingham Herald - April 5, 2006