Archive for Tuesday, February 10, 2004

House panel hears about methamphetamine problem in Kansas

February 10, 2004


— Methamphetamine use in Kansas remains epidemic, endangering children and filling the state's prisons, Johnson County Sheriff Currie Myers told a House committee on Monday.

A bill before the Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee would require manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors of about 20 chemicals to keep a record of how much they're selling.

The chemicals, including ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, are ingredients required for methamphetamine. Myers said the highly addictive drug can be made using common household ingredients, which makes it cheap and easily available.

The committee also heard a plea for money, from Cristi Cain, head of the Kansas Methamphetamine Prevention Project.

Cain said Kansas is the only state with a comprehensive effort to combat meth but noted that a $58,000 federal grant for the project has run out.

Without future funding, "Kansas will lose ground in addressing the meth problem, which is already at epidemic proportions," Cain said.

She said statistics showing a decline last year in the number of meth labs being found, while the number of people seeking treatment for addiction is going up.

Investigating meth cases, punishing meth-related crime and dealing with meth-related health problems cost the state more than $23 million a year, she said.

Myers said the use of methamphetamine burns out the dopamine system -- the pleasure center of the brain -- leaving addicts with no way to experience pleasure other than using drugs.

The dopamine system doesn't recover until 12 to 18 months after an addict stops using meth, meaning short-term treatment programs usually are unsuccessful, he said.

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