Officials support proposed meth bill |

Officials support proposed meth bill

Laura Elder

Local prosecutors who’ve seen drug-related caseloads escalate in recent years say they support proposed legislation that could help rural communities provide treatment programs for methamphetamine users.

Treatment programs are something sorely lacking in Moffat County, where meth use is taking its toll, officials say.

Although meth is a huge problem in Moffat County, there are no in-patient treatment programs for meth users. Officials say they hope the bill would provide state funding to rural communities to help attract treatment facilities.

Without treatment facilities, the meth problem continues to fester, officials say.

“People who are meth users become a burden on our system in many different ways,” said Amy Fitch, chief deputy district attorney for the 14th Judicial District. “They commit most of the crimes, and they create a lot of the problems in our community. To be able to offer treatment would certainly benefit our community.”

The Colorado District At–torney’s Council is throwing its support behind the bill, which lawmakers are expected to introduce in the next legislative session.

Still in its formative stages, the bill is expected to aid law enforcement officials and agencies in battling the meth problem and help communities create treatment and prevention programs, according to reports. It also calls for a state task force that could help agencies share information and get federal funding for treatment and prevention programs, officials say.

Officials say meth use is burdening the legal system locally.

Last year, the District Attorney’s Office was forced to add another deputy district attorney to handle the increase in drug-related cases, mostly involving meth.

The bill, according to reports, also would place tougher restrictions on over-the-counter medications used to make meth. The key meth ingredient in those medications is pseudoephedrine, a chemical found in cold medicines such as Sudafed.

About a year ago, Craig City Council passed an ordinance requiring retailers to restrict access to products containing pseudoephedrine and limiting the amount consumers can buy.

Some Craig retailers, including Kmart, had already voluntarily restricted certain over-the-counter medications.

Across the nation, states are adopting similar laws, though some law-abiding consumers protested the inconvenience and some retailers balked.

State Rep. Al White, R-Winter Park, said he supported laws restricting access to chemicals and so-called precursor drugs used to make meth. Meth, highly addictive, is easy to make in makeshift labs. The process also creates explosive vapors.

But White said he wouldn’t go as far as lawmakers in Oregon, the first state to require prescriptions for everyday cold and allergy medications that contain pseudoephedrine.

“That’s a step too far,” White said.

14th Judicial District Attorney Bonnie Roesink said she supported the proposed legislation.

“I definitely support it, especially with the problems in Craig and now they’re starting to have problems in Steamboat,” Roesink said.

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