AUG 18--( Nashville, TN) – In a joint appearance by three members of the President’s Cabinet, John Walters, the Director of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP); Alberto R. Gonzales, U.S. Attorney General; and Mike Leavitt, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), today detailed the Federal government’s comprehensive, balanced approach to the methamphetamine challenge. Touring the Davidson County Drug Court and Treatment Center in Nashville, Tennessee, Administration officials highlighted progress in efforts to reduce meth production and trafficking, and to advance treatment and prevention for meth addiction and unveiled new Administration initiatives for continuing to combat the meth threat from all angles.
In recent years, many communities across the country have become all-too familiar with the public health and safety consequences of methamphetamine, as the drug’s production and abuse has migrated eastwards from the western United States. Methamphetamine presents unique challenges to state and local law enforcement professionals, who are often exposed to toxic and highly volatile lab sites, as well as the violent and dangerous behaviors of those who use the drug. Methamphetamine also burdens social service agencies, which must address the physiological and psychological affects on a generation of drug endangered children who have been traumatized and victimized through exposure to toxic labs, abuse, and neglect by their meth-involved adult caregivers.
The Administration strongly supports the development of Federal legislation to fight methamphetamine production, trafficking, and abuse. Effective Federal legislation would include an individual purchase limit of 3.6 grams per transaction for retail sales of products containing pseudoephedrine (PSE); elimination of the blister pack exemption for PSE products, thus requiring all products containing PSE to be subject to Federal law, regardless of how they are packaged; and, to prevent diversion of PSE shipments for illegal use, a requirement that importers of PSE request and receive approval from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) if there is a change in the shipment’s original purchase.
Putting the meth problem in a national perspective, ONDCP Director John Walters said, “The methamphetamine challenge has touched communities across this Nation differently, but its devastating consequences are borne by all Americans. Through the National Drug Control Strategy and the National Synthetic Drugs Action Plan, the Federal government has implemented a balanced approach to fighting meth. Together with our state and local partners, we are aggressively pushing back against the drug and our collaborative efforts are generating significant progress in several critical areas.”
The number of domestic methamphetamine “superlabs” (those capable of producing 10 pounds of meth or more in a 24-hour production cycle) has been dramatically reduced. Over the last three years, law enforcement has seized, on average, 45 small toxic meth labs or dumpsites each day across America. The DEA has aggressively targeted meth producers and traffickers, resulting in the initiation of 2,830 criminal cases related to meth production, distribution, or diversion of precursor chemicals in 2004 alone.
The DEA expects to initiate a Federal Clandestine Lab Container Program in Fiscal Year 2006. Toxic waste from meth labs will be transported by trained law enforcement personnel to centralized containers that meet all hazardous waste storage requirements and will then be picked up and removed by DEA contractors. In pilot projects, the container program significantly reduced the cost of lab cleanups, law enforcement overtime, and hazardous waste material removal by streamlining the processes. Additionally, the DEA successfully negotiated agreements with private sector companies like eBay as well as governments from China, Mexico, and Panama to restrict the diversion of precursor chemicals like pseudoephedrine to meth labs in the U.S. and elsewhere.
“The scourge of methamphetamine demands unconventional thinking and innovative solutions to fight the devastation it leaves behind,” said Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. “Over the past 10 years, the Justice Department has more than quadrupled the number of methamphetamine cases filed nationwide, and the new initiatives announced today by the Administration will increase our efforts to target all aspects of the meth problem. By using expertise from across the Federal government in one comprehensive plan, and by working with state and local officials, we will continue to prove that the methamphetamine problem can be beaten and lives can be saved.”
HHS has significantly advanced prevention and treatment for meth addiction and technical assistance for social service agencies charged with protecting children in meth-affected homes. In FY 2004, HHS awarded $10.8 million in competitive grants for projects related to treatment for individuals using methamphetamine. In FY 2005, HHS is awarding 11 new grants worth $16.2 million over three years to address meth abuse in seven states. To help more people out of the destructive web of addiction, the President has proposed expanding the Access to Recovery program by $50 million in 2006. Tennessee already has an Access to Recovery grant – $7 million a year – and is using it to focus on making treatment and recovery programs available to meth abusers. Additionally, HHS funding of methamphetamine-related research has increased nearly 150 percent, from approximately $15 million in FY 2000, to more than $37 million in FY 2004.
To reduce the trauma and adverse impact of meth on children, families, and the child protective services system, HHS has developed and implemented a number of resources. Through mechanisms such as teleconference training for grantees and regional staff, websites (http://www.ncsacw.samhsa.gov/), as well as technical assistance for state and local CPS agencies, the Administration is assisting social service providers in effectively dealing with issues such as child welfare safety protocols for children affected by parental use.
HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said, “Meth abuse causes great harm to children, families, and communities, but it is a preventable and treatable problem that we are taking steps to address. The President’s comprehensive approach, combining prevention, treatment, law enforcement, and education is the most effective approach to reducing the public health threat of methamphetamine.”
To build upon the progress already made in the effort against meth, the Bush Administration today announced several new Federal initiatives focused on four core areas: prevention and treatment; law enforcement; education; and management of the drug’s unique consequences. These new initiatives will leverage the impact of the extensive work being done at the state and local level and will provide additional resources to those working across the Nation to make their communities healthier and safer.