Methamphetamines are the "biggest illegal drug menace in America," according to a group of attorneys general and drug experts who convened Thursday in Scottsdale for the 2005 Methamphetamine Summit.
And the key step to curbing the meth epidemic is to restrict sales of some overthe-counter cold pills that contain ingredients used to make the drug, they said.
The summit marked the first time the Conference of Western Attorneys General has convened a special meeting to take on a drug issue.
The drug’s far-reaching effects make it worthy of this distinction, explained state Attorney General Terry Goddard.
"Meth is closely connected to a wide range of other crimes including domestic abuse, child endangerment and identity theft," Goddard said.
It is also expensive.
The costs associated with a single neighborhood meth lab have been estimated at more than $300,000 due to the toxic chemicals that must be cleaned up, he said.
The attorneys created a list of recommended steps for states and communities to decrease meth use.
One step is to create laws that restrict sales of pills containing pseudoephedrine, a drug essential in the manufacture of methamphetamine. This drug is found in some over-the-counter decongestants.
Placing the drugs behind a pharmacy counter and requiring people to sign a log before purchasing them will cut down on the manufacturing of meth, Goddard explained.
A similar law in Oklahoma yielded a 70 percent to 80 percent decrease in meth lab seizures after it was implemented, according to W.A. Drew Edmondson, Oklahoma’s Attorney General, who attended the summit.
A bill currently being considered in the Arizona Legislature would create such legislation.
The attorneys also recommended that states:
• Protect child victims of meth production by updating laws to clearly state that making meth around children is child abuse.
• Step up efforts to intercept meth supplies coming from Mexico and elsewhere.
• Mount a grass-roots prevention campaign among law enforcement, schools, doctors and service clubs.
But the conference also served as a warning — a warning of what could come to eastern states if meth is not curbed, Goddard said.
"We’re trying to tell our counterparts in other states, It’s moving toward the Midwest and even the east," said Montana’s Attorney General Mike McGrath.