Editorial: Much work remains on the meth front

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 21, 2005

We welcome the rencet good news on two fronts in the fight against methamphetamine use.

First, a new law that restricts access to a key raw material for making the illegal stimulant is credited with a dramatic decrease in the number of homegrown meth labs.

On the second front, new prison commitments related to meth have leveled off after years of spiraling growth, and state corrections facilities are now reconsidering the timing of a proposed expansion.

Meth labs were a hazard to neighbors, law enforcement and even children. But they were never the state’s major source of meth, so this can’t be claimed as a huge victory. And, there’s no sign that meth use is dropping in Minnesota. We cannot be complacent.

The battle now has to focus on imported meth produced in so-called &8220;mega-labs&8221; that federal authorities believe are operated by Mexican and Asian drug traffickers. It’s estimated that perhaps up to 90 percent of the meth used in Minnesota comes from labs elsewhere that produce a cheaper, more potent form of the drug.

It’s going to take continued enforcement to interrupt the flow of meth hidden away and distributed all over. It’s going to take a full-blown, cooperative effort to detect, enforce and punish dealers and traffickers.

It’s also important to reduce demand for the highly addictive stimulant.

Some experts think the next phase of the meth fight will be putting together an education and prevention component. Using law enforcement and law enforcement alone is not getting at the root of this problem.

And enough and appropriate meth treatment for those who want to kick the addiction needs to be made available.

There’s much work to be done yet on the meth front.