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Posted: 5/23/2005 11:18:32 AM EDT
Lawmakers Develop Plan to Target Meth Abuse



NIKI SULLIVAN
Associated Press


SALEM, Ore. (AP) -- Police officers sometimes find food stamp cards under a variety of names when they raid houses that have been used to make methamphetamine.

The ATM-like cards belong to meth users who trade them for the drug.

Under a bill in the Legislature, parole officers and other legal supervisors would be able to cut off food stamp benefits for anyone suspected of using their food stamps as payment for drugs.

Law enforcement officials say meth causes a whole range of problems - increased property crime, increased child abuse and neglect, a strain on county prosecutors, overflowing jails, overextended police and increased identity theft.

That's why Salem Police Chief Walt Myers said the Legislature needs to agree on a plan - and provide funding - to fight meth.

''More officers, more jail facilities, there has to be more prosecutors. There has to be, and if that decision is not made, it will continue to worsen,'' Myers said.

''There needs to be money applied to the problem,'' Myers said.

But lawmakers have struggled this session to find cost-conscious ways to combat Oregon's growing meth problem.

Working with Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who made meth a top priority, Sen. Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, and Rep. Wayne Krieger, R-Gold Beach, say there's an emerging consensus to spend as much as $20 million to:

Make it a crime to expose children, elderly or disabled person to meth labs.


Provide funding for programs that allow addicts to complete strict recovery programs instead of serve jail time in certain circumstances, and to fund in-jail recovery programs for serious offenders.


Give parole officers and supervisors the authority to suspend food stamp benefits for meth users if it is suspected they are using the cards as payment for drugs.
One of the issues was how to protect children from parents' destructive drug habits - which often leads to abuse and neglect.

The majority of child abuse cases in the Department of Human Services now involve meth.

''That is, without a doubt, something that's got all our hearts broken,'' said Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem. Courtney said cases have included children living in meth houses and babies born to drug-addicted mothers.

''We can't end this session without making a heck of a run at that,'' Courtney said.

The bills would create a crime of exposing children, elderly or disabled people to meth. They would also clarify the court's ability to change custody agreements based on drug convictions.

Both would help keep kids out of drug houses and away from parents who abuse meth.

Krieger and Burdick also said treatment programs are an important aspect of the state's fight against meth.

Studies have shown that intensive treatment and rehabilitation programs are highly effective at getting people off the extremely addictive drug, Krieger said, at a lower cost than imprisonment.

''Those who think you can simply throw the key away better be ready to put up some more tax dollars,'' Krieger said.

Burdick agreed: ''The most expensive thing you can do is just cycle people in and out of the (jail) system.''

The bills contain two types of treatment: drug court and in-jail programs.

Drug court is a county-run program that allows some offenders to complete a strict court-supervised rehabilitation without imprisonment in exchange for a clean slate if they complete the program. If not, they serve time for the charges.

The program is often only open to offenders with a short criminal history.

For serious meth users and cooks, the bills would fund Department of Corrections treatment programs, which provide rehabilitation during jail time.

Each program takes from six months to a year to complete, lawmakers said, but can significantly decrease the risk that the person will abuse meth again.

Meth is an especially difficult drug to fight, experts say, because it's cheap and easy to make with a handful of household chemicals and over-the-counter drugs.

Craig Campbell, meth adviser for Kulongoski, praised lawmakers for the ''targeted, specific'' changes laid out in the bills.

Campbell said the approach is much more broad-based than in any other states he's seen.

In addition to the above changes, the bills would also classify meth fires as arson, make it a crime to dispose of meth waste, increase penalties for possessing large amounts of meth, and fund a state program that would help smaller counties prosecute meth cases.

''Some of this stuff, we're going to be able to see within a few months of the implementation date,'' Campbell said.

Campbell said the Legislature is considering requiring that cold pills containing psudoephedrine be behind the counter. This is already required by the State Board of Pharmacy, but the Legislature can also put it into law.

While the bills offer an economical way to fight meth, there still isn't an agreement over how much money to spend.

Krieger estimates the programs could cost $20 million or more, but the House budget contains about half that.

Meanwhile, Courtney said there will undoubtedly be room in the budget to combat meth, but no one knows how much it will take.

''Trying to find that much money within the existing budget is going to be extremely difficult,'' Krieger said.

Link Posted: 5/23/2005 12:43:40 PM EDT
just give them more meth, they wont need friggin food stamps foe long.


Lebrew
Link Posted: 5/23/2005 12:44:39 PM EDT

Originally Posted By lebrew:

just give them more meth, they wont need friggin food stamps foe long.


Lebrew




Dennis Leary - "We don't need less drugs, we need more drugs - better drugs. The ultimate high - one hit you fly, then you die"
Link Posted: 5/23/2005 12:47:55 PM EDT

''More officers, more jail facilities, there has to be more prosecutors. There has to be, and if that decision is not made, it will continue to worsen,'' Myers said.




yeah... that's the best plan......<rolls eyes>
Link Posted: 5/23/2005 12:48:08 PM EDT

Originally Posted By fight4yourrights:

Originally Posted By lebrew:

just give them more meth, they wont need friggin food stamps foe long.


Lebrew




Dennis Leary - "We don't need less drugs, we need more drugs - better drugs. The ultimate high - one hit you fly, then you die"



If it can be documented that they are selling their card, I say hell yea, take their food stamps away.
Link Posted: 5/23/2005 12:49:36 PM EDT
Anyone on food stamps, unemployment, or section 8 should be drug tested. You fail, you lose your government assistance.
Link Posted: 5/23/2005 12:59:38 PM EDT
Moving the ocean with a bucket assholes! Unlike Cocaine or heroin which are grown overseas and mafia controlled, Meth is different. ANyone can make it in the home with a few common chemicals. How do you stop that? The idea of ending meth labs is silly. think about how easy it is to make home brew alcohol. Just some apple cider and wah-la! It's the same with meth. hamsters in a exercise wheel.
Link Posted: 5/23/2005 1:05:35 PM EDT
In principle, I have no problem with this, but one thing does worry me:

". . . would be able to cut off food stamp benefits for anyone suspected of using their food stamps as payment for drugs."

Doesn't that open up a whole can of Due Process™ worms?
Link Posted: 5/23/2005 1:10:13 PM EDT
Just end the food stamp program in it's entirity. There is no govt authority to provide that service.
Link Posted: 5/23/2005 1:11:21 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Admiral_Crunch:
In principle, I have no problem with this, but one thing does worry me:

". . . would be able to cut off food stamp benefits for anyone suspected of using their food stamps as payment for drugs."

Doesn't that open up a whole can of Due Process™ worms?



[tongue in cheek] Admiral, you should be will to give up
due process if it will solve ________________ [/tongue in cheek]
Link Posted: 5/23/2005 1:38:35 PM EDT

Originally Posted By lebrew:
just give them more meth, they wont need friggin food stamps foe long.


Lebrew



Yeah, I tend to agree. Encourage thier drug use to the point they exterminate themselves. There are too many people that aren't worth a shit anyway. How about we start to reward those of us who work and pay taxes?
Link Posted: 5/24/2005 10:24:34 AM EDT

Originally Posted By skpp108:

Originally Posted By lebrew:
just give them more meth, they wont need friggin food stamps foe long.


Lebrew



Yeah, I tend to agree. Encourage thier drug use to the point they exterminate themselves. There are too many people that aren't worth a shit anyway.



Just one of the many reasons drugs should be fully legalized. The spectacular Darwinian thinning of the herd would be an interesting social experiment.
Link Posted: 5/24/2005 11:30:37 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Partisan:
Just end the food stamp program in it's entirity. There is no govt authority to provide that service.


+1. It'll be a cold day before I get on that thing.
Link Posted: 5/24/2005 11:33:37 AM EDT

Originally Posted By skpp108:

Yeah, I tend to agree. Encourage thier drug use to the point they exterminate themselves. There are too many people that aren't worth a shit anyway. How about we start to reward those of us who work and pay taxes?



Then who would we use for our pornography? Did you think of that?

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