Archive for Wednesday, August 15, 2001

Battle over meth labs affects all taxpayers

August 15, 2001

A recent study shows that $21 million was spent last year in Kansas to combat methamphetamine labs.

That's a staggering amount of money.

But what's even more staggering is that law enforcement officials across the state say they need more resources to fight the proliferation of labs, according to the report by the state's Legislative Post Audit Committee.

Clearly, the methamphetamine problem is out of control in our state.

According to the report, Kansas Bureau of Investigation officials say Kansas ranks in the top 10 states in the number of meth labs found. Certainly, Leavenworth County, where 21 labs were seized in 2000, ranks high among Kansas counties in the number of labs seized.

Law enforcement officials say the mobility of both labs and suspects can be a major impediment to enforcement.

Part of the $21 million cost to taxpayers to wage the war on meth was used to treat methamphetamine addicts. During the past five years, the state Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services has more than doubled its spending for treatment for addicts, from about $529,000 in 1995 to nearly $1.1 million in 2000.

The meth battle is one that can be won with additional dollars. But it also is important for members of the public to be aware of warning signs of methamphetamine laboratories which would help law enforcement and would help protect the unsuspecting public. Some Kansas retailers have agreed to participate in a program to limit the availability of over-the-counter drugs that are common ingredients in the manufacture of methamphetamine. That's a worthwhile step.

And it likely would be beneficial to increase the controls on storage of anhydrous ammonia, which also is used in the manufacturing process.

It behooves members of the public to be aware of the methamphetamine problem that our county and state face. It takes a financial and a social toll. And because toxic materials are used to manufacture meth, members of the public can be in danger.

Methamphetamine is a problem that extends beyond the realm of law enforcement and affects us all.

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