McGrath: Meth Report Encouraging
HELENA – Montana Attorney General Mike McGrath released a preliminary report Wednesday that demonstrates that Montana is making significant progress against methamphetamine.
“These numbers are very promising,” McGrath said. “This is proof that all the work Montanans have done through enforcement, prevention and treatment is making a difference.”
Methamphetamine in Montana: A Preliminary Report on Trends and Impact was done in conjunction with the Montana Meth Project. Trends identified in the report are based on data that includes drug task force incident reports, law enforcement statistics, crime lab reports, hospital discharge and admission information, survey results and interviews with participating agencies.
The report notes that public awareness of meth is very high.
“Clearly the highly visible prevention campaign conducted by the Montana Meth Project has had an enormous impact,” McGrath said.
In addition, legislation passed in 2005 included regulation of meth precursors like pseudoephedrine, establishment of cleanup standards for indoor labs and options for treatment, either through treatment courts or the Department of Corrections.
“I’ve said more than once that Montana passed the most comprehensive package of methamphetamine-related legislation in the country in 2005,” McGrath said, “and I believe these numbers demonstrate that.”
McGrath said one of the most notable statistics in the report was the dramatic drop in clandestine meth labs. There were 15 in the state in 2006, and since October 1, 2006, the Drug Enforcement Administration has reported only one lab in Montana.
Here’s a look at some of the other findings from Wednesday’s report:
Attitudes are changing – The report notes that a survey of middle school and high school students administered by the Department of Public Health and Human Services showed that 93 percent of respondents perceived meth use as having “great risk.”
Supply may be decreasing – Data from the Montana Board of Crime Control showed 284 methamphetamine seizures in 2006, compared with 583 in 2005. The board collects information from local jurisdictions and drug task forces.
Use appears to be declining – According to the semi-annual Drug Testing Index, Montana’s overall rate of employees testing positive for meth fell more than 70 percent between 2005 and 2006. It was the biggest decrease in the country.
Meth-related crime is decreasing – Information reported to the Montana Board of Crime Control showed the total number of meth-related offenses dropped from 1,259 in 2005 to 589 in 2006.
Social and economic impacts remain high – The Department of Corrections reported that 50 percent of Montana’s adult inmates are incarcerated due to meth-related crimes, with a cost to the state of between $18,000 and $29,000 per inmate. Likewise, 52 percent of the parents of children placed in out-of-home foster care have lost custody of their children due to meth-related abuse.