Michigan Recognizes Methamphetamine Awareness Day

Contact: T.J. Bucholz (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

November 30, 2006

LANSING-State and national officials are recognizing November 30 as National Methamphetamine Awareness Day, citing Michigan as a national example of a state making progress toward slowing the spread of the deadly drug.

"Since 2002, Michigan has taken a proactive approach to dealing with this drug, and has attacked the problem from many different angles, including initiatives in prevention, enforcement, education, treatment, child welfare, retail and legislation," said Donald L. Allen, Director of the Michigan Office of Drug Control Policy. "We have borrowed strategies from our neighboring states that have been proven successful and have also developed some of our own approaches that have worked quite well. We believe that the progress we have made in preventing the spread of methamphetamine across Michigan has only been successful because of the strong team we have in place."

"It is my great honor and privilege to officially observe the first-ever National Methamphetamine Awareness Day here in Lansing, Michigan. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy appreciates the dedication of the Michigan Office of Drug Control Policy, the Michigan State Police, and the hard work of the Michigan HIDTA in combating the deadly scourge of methamphetamine," said Mary Ann Solberg, Deputy Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. "Meth is a serious and highly toxic drug that adversely affects countless American lives and communities and Michigan has remained a key player in the 30 percent decrease in meth lab incidents we have seen recently at the national level."

Since 2002, the Michigan Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP), within the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), has served as the coordinating agency for a statewide methamphetamine strategy-which includes the State Meth Task Force and eight multi-disciplinary committees on Media/Public Awareness, Law Enforcement, Environmental, Prevention, Treatment and Education, Child Welfare, Prosecution/Judicial and Retail.

"Since methamphetamine emerged on the West Coast almost a decade ago, and well before it hit the shores of Michigan, officials here in our state were taking measures to stem the tide of this toxic drug through prevention, education and enforcement," said Col. Peter C. Munoz, director of the Michigan State Police. "By working together with law enforcement, human services, health care, business and environmental experts, we are gaining ground in this fight."

In 2004, ODCP applied for and received a $1.05 million three-year grant from SAMHSA-the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP)-to further meth prevention efforts around methamphetamine. In 2006, two more regional substance abuse coordinating agencies were added, resulting in a total of twenty counties being covered through this project.

"National Meth Awareness Day serves as a statement and a commitment to all Americans that DEA and our State and Local Law enforcement partners are dedicated to the prevention and education regarding the ill effects of this horrible drug," said Robert Corso, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, Detroit Field Division. "Cooperation is the key. Working together we can prevent this epidemic and enhance the quality of life for all Michiganians."

Michigan also has taken action through its statewide "MethWatch" retail and community education campaign. Implemented in May 2005, this community-based program has worked with various retailers across the State of Michigan by training their employees to recognize and identify individuals who are attempting to obtain the necessary precursors for the illegal production of meth.

"In response to the dangers of meth, our office's district-wide anti-meth strategy has achieved results, both in significant prosecutions and lengthy prison sentences, and in providing broad-based community education and outreach programs," said Stephen J. Murphy, United States Attorney, Eastern District of Michigan. "I am proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with our partners in local, state and federal law enforcement. Without this kind of terrific cooperation, we would not be able to achieve the success we have seen."

The MethWatch program also incorporates an aggressive awareness campaign by placing "MethWatch" stickers near these components on the shelves at stores, thereby notifying meth dealers that the facility is knowledgeable and has an increased level of awareness.

"The United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Michigan is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute individuals who are involved in the importation, manufacture, distribution, or sale of methamphetamine," said Margaret M. Chiara, United States Attorney, Western District of Michigan. "The effect of methamphetamine use reaches beyond the abuser, to innocent children who become the victims of the danger, violence, and aggression associated with the drug."

In July 2006, additional meth prevention legislation in Michigan went into effect which:

· Adds exposure to methamphetamine to the definition of child abuse and requires officials to conduct an investigation if exposure is suspected;

· Allows local law enforcement officers to seek medical treatment for children exposed to methamphetamine without a court order;

· Creates a Methamphetamine Reporting Act to better enable law enforcement officials to track methamphetamine production and use;

· Requires sites of lab locations to be posted on the internet, along with their clean-up status;

· Requires the Department of Community Health and the Department of Environmental Quality to develop new procedures for clean-up of household and environmental contamination resulting from methamphetamine production; and

· Prohibits the use of the Internet or other electronic methods to publish information regarding production of methamphetamine or to sell ephedrine or pseudoephedrine-based products that can be used in its production.

Since 2000 to 2005, the number of discovered meth labs increased from 40 to 261, but so far in 2006, Michigan has seen a significant decline to 100 labs as of November 18, and only 105 meth-related incidents.

"The mission of the HIDTA Program is to support federal, state and local law enforcement in their collective efforts to address and contain criminal issues which plaque our State. Methamphetamine abuse and small toxic labs are one of these issues," said Abraham L. Azzam, Director, Michigan HIDTA. "HIDTA is pleased to know our support has made a material difference in the Methamphetamine struggle in Michigan."

Michigan also has developed a drug endangered children (DEC) protocol, which includes both a response protocol and a specific medical protocol. Booklets were produced which include both protocols, and will be handed out during DEC trainings scheduled for 2007. State agencies are also working with Native American tribes to develop DEC protocols for their use.