Counties Want Federal Help to Fight 'Meth'
Survey Says Most Local Law Enforcement Agencies See Methamphetamines as No. 1 Drug Problem
WebMD News Archive
July 5, 2005 -- An organization representing local officials said Tuesday
that the White House is not paying enough attention to a growing
The localities say they need more help from the federal government to combat
methamphetamine, a powerful and highly addictive stimulant that has spread
throughout the country through distribution from home laboratories.
Fifty-eight percent of local law enforcement agencies in a National
Association of Counties (NACo) survey released Tuesday call methamphetamine
their most serious drug problem. Cocaine is named the No. 1 problem by 19%,
while marijuana is named by 17%.
Marijuana Policy vs. Methamphetamine Policy
But the organization was critical of President Bush's drug policy, which has
focused heavily on preventing marijuana use in children and adolescents. The
strategy includes widespread media campaigns against marijuana and a focus on
school-based drug testing.
The administration should focus on methamphetamine "as much as they do
marijuana," Larry E. Naake, the group's executive director, told
"We think that there now is an epidemic that needs to get their
attention," he said.
"Our message to the administration is that there is also an additional
drug epidemic that is occurring in this country," said Angelo D. Kyle, the
NACo president and a county board member from Lake County, Ill.
Officials complained that the rising use of methamphetamine - also known as
"meth" -- is increasingly responsible for child neglect cases and
arrests for domestic violence. Overdoses with the drug, as well as poisonings
and burn injuries from manufacturing labs, are putting increased pressure on
rural and county hospitals, they say.
Forty percent of 303 counties in 13 states surveyed by the group reported an
increase in neglected children placed outside the home by child welfare
departments because of methamphetamine use.
The 2006 federal budget cuts $804 million in federal grants that localities
used to police methamphetamines and other drugs. The White House budget states
that the funds, called the Justice Assistance Program, "do not have a
record of demonstrating results."
"It's causing us a tremendous problem," Naake said of the cuts. The
group wants Congress to spend more money on methamphetamine law enforcement and
treatment programs for localities.
White House Reaction
Jennifer DeVallance, White House Office of Drug Control Policy spokeswoman,
tells WebMD that the administration's focus on marijuana is "fair and
appropriate." The U.S. currently has 15 million regular marijuana users but
only 1 million methamphetamine users, she says.
"You hear the word 'epidemic' thrown around quite a bit when you're
talking about meth. This is a major and significant problem, but it is not one
that is out of control and it is not one that can't be contained,"
In a 2003 survey conducted for the federal government by the University of
Michigan, nearly 6% of college students and 9% of adults aged 19-26 reported
using methamphetamines at least once during their lifetimes. The use of
methamphetamines by middle school and high school students dropped by 24%,
according to federal figures.