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Steve Marshall: Significant work done in the fight against meth

11.11.15 – Steve Marshall, Sand Mountain Reporter

Many times I fail as an administrator in being remiss to acknowledge and celebrate consistently the successes of my coworkers at the District Attorney’s Office.

The same is also true as it relates to work of local law enforcement.

In today’s world, where we are seemingly bombarded with stories of crime, too infrequently do we hear of where progress has been made and sustained.

No better example exists than the problem of clandestine methamphetamine labs.

There is no doubt that our state and community has felt the effects of meth use and abuse in the past decade. Many can tell stories, either of friends, neighbors, coworkers or family members, who have their lives turned upside down because of this terrible drug.

Thankfully, Alabama has made great strides enacting legislation that makes it harder for meth makers – specifically those who misuse the decongestant containing pseudoephedrine (PSE) in the process of meth production – to gain access to the cold and allergy medicine.

As a result of the efforts of our former state representative Frank McDaniel, in 2011, Alabama began blocking the sale of PSE-containing medicines to those who exceeded their legally allotted limit by using a real-time alert system known as the National Precursor Log Exchange.

Again, in 2012, our legislative delegation helped Alabama join a much more select group of states and chose to ban the sale of medication containing PSE to anyone previously convicted of a meth crime.

These legislative actions, along with the diligent work of local law enforcement, helped lead to a very notable reduction in the number of meth lab seizures in the state without creating an increased burden on law-abiding citizens.

The results of the combined work of law enforcement and policy makers has been substantial. In 2010, Marshall County had over 150 arrests of individuals who were manufacturing methamphetamine or possessed the precursor chemicals for a clandestine lab.

In two years, these arrests fell by over 60 percent. This decline did not stop after this initial change. In fact, by 2015, arrests are down by over 90 percent.

This progress is nothing short of remarkable, especially as it relates to reducing the exposure of children to these toxic and dangerous environments.

While the results are laudable, no one believes the problems of methamphetamine has been eliminated.

As described in a new report from economist Alex Brill, the restrictions on PSE have led to their demand for meth being fulfilled by Mexican drug cartels. The cartels have taken advantage of the lessening supply of meth domestically to extend their reach into our cities and towns.

As domestic production continues to decrease, the cartels are pushing a product that is more potent and addictive than meth produced in the United States.

Going forward, we need to work together: educators, community leaders, legislators and law enforcement to help create an environment where Alabamans are not driven to drug addiction in the first place.

Read more here.