Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The first time I glanced at the National Association of Counties' latest report on meth, I thought it vindicated the meth precursor laws that have popped up over the last couple of years. The second time, I decided the exact opposite is the case.
You know the types of restrictions I'm talking about. They're the local, state and federal laws that limit the amount consumers can purchase of cold medicines that contain products used for meth production and require that the medicines be kept behind the counter.
NACO asked 500 county law enforcement officials about their jurisdictions. The good news is that only 12% of them reported an increase in meth lab seizures over the past year, while 46% reported a decrease and the rest saw no change. Assuming law enforcement didn't simply become less vigilant last year, it sounds as though the precursor laws are reducing meth labs.
Here's the bad news: almost everything else.
Robberies and burglaries connected to meth were up in 55% of places, while meth-related domestic violence incidents were up in 48% of places. Public safety staff workloads were up in 63% of locales because of meth. Slightly more respondents reported this year that more than 20% of their county jail inmates were locked up for meth-related offenses compared to NACO's survey from a year ago. Some of the other numbers weren't quite as gloomy, but overall it's not a pretty picture.
So, the report seems to come to the right conclusion: "Although recently passed precursor legislation has reduced the number of small meth labs, it does not address addiction and therefore has not reduced the use of methamphetamines in most jurisdictions."
Photo via Flickr, from monkeyjunkie.
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.