FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 15, 2005
Schumer Announces Deal Struck on Legislation to Crack Down on Crystal Meth
Bill Would Close Loopholes, Allocate Immediate Dollars For Education, Prevention, and Treatment – And Put Pseudoephedrine Behind The Pharmacy Counter
Schumer: When Similar Laws Implemented In Oklahoma, Measures Drove Down Meth Seizures By 70 Percent
As methamphetamine usage continues to plague every corner of New York State, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced major progress in the fight to crackdown on the crystal meth epidemic. Schumer, a co-sponsor of the Combat Meth Act, said provisions of the legislation now slated for approval, will help close loopholes, allocate immediate dollars for education, prevention, and treatment, stamp out the international trade in methamphetamine, and put pseudoephedrine behind the pharmacy counter.
“We are waging a battle against crystal meth, and this is a major step forward,” Schumer said. “There’s a lot more work to be done and this bill would bill local law enforcement the tools they need to effectively combat this ongoing epidemic. This new, bipartisan momentum in Congress to deal with the spread of crystal meth will hopefully mean increased prevention, treatment, and care across New York State.”
Nationally, meth use has grown by as much as 300% in some communities. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, during 2000, 4% of the U.S. population or 12.3 million people reported trying methamphetamine at least once in their lifetime. Nationwide meth lab seizures have more than doubled from over 7,000 in 1999 to over 17,000 in 2004. In 1999, there were three meth lab raids in the entire state of New York, but by 2003 there were 73. In the past year, we have made some progress with raids slightly dropping to 53 in 2004. Admissions for meth users NYS drug treatment clinics have risen by over 80% in five years. In 1999, 623 people were admitted to treatment for meth addiction in NYS, but by 2004 that number grew to 1,118.
This problem plagues every corner of New York State; there have been clandestine meth lab raids in 39 counties since 1999. In some regions, like the Southern Tier and North Country the problem is particularly acute. Meth lab raids in the Southern Tier and North Country account for 71% of the total meth lab raids, but only for 38% of meth addiction admissions.
Schumer announced that a bipartisan deal was reached on provisions of the Combat Meth Act, originally sponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Jim Talent (R-MO). Schumer said today that broad bipartisan agreement on the bill should mean that stand alone legislation dealing with the issue should move through Congress quickly. Specifically, the Combat Meth Act would:
• Restrict the sale of necessary ingredient to make meth – Amends the Controlled Substances Act to appropriately limit and record the sale of medicines containing pseudoephedrine by placing them behind the pharmacy counter and sets a limit on how much such medicines one person can by in a month – 9.0 grams.
• Provide critical resources to hot spot areas to reduce availability of meth – Provides an additional $99,000,000 in grants to States and local law enforcement agencies to assist in the investigation of meth traffickers and to support State and local health department and environmental agency services deployed to address the meth epidemic.
• Increase penalties for meth smugglers and kingpins – Adds a sentence of up to 15 years in prison for those who smuggle meth into this country, and includes more large-scale meth dealers in the category of drug kingpins who receive enhanced sentences.
• Enhance law enforcement’s ability to track major international meth producers – Grants $1,000,000 to add a special section on meth to the State Department’s report on major drug trafficking countries; if any of the countries designated in the report does not fully cooperate with the United States in limiting meth production and trade, their U.S. aid will be jeopardized.
• Prevent the smuggling of meth from Mexico – In order to stamp out the dangerous and free-flowing trade in meth across the Mexican border, the bill provides $4,000,000 to enhance bilateral border enforcement efforts and to facilitate cooperation with the Mexican government.
• Adds critical funding for federal drug courts ¬– Authorizes an additional $70,000,000 to fund federal drug courts.
• Provide services for children affected by the spread of meth – Provides $20,000,000 in grant funding for Drug Endangered Children rapid response teams to promote collaboration among federal, state, and local agencies to assist and educate children that have been affected by the production of methamphetamine.
Methamphetamine is perhaps the most deadly, fiercely addictive and rapidly spreading drug the United States has known. During the past decade, while law enforcement officers continue to bust record numbers of clandestine labs, meth use in communities has skyrocketed. Meth is cheap, potent, and available everywhere.
The continuing proliferation of methamphetamine production continues to put a severe strain on federal and local entities. Fighting meth requires a comprehensive approach designed to assist states, local law enforcement and prosecutors to crack down on cooks and traffickers of meth while enhancing community education and awareness and treatment options for those addicted to this dangerous drug.