Lawmakers, law enforcers combat Georgia's meth problem - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Lawmakers, law enforcers combat Georgia's meth problem

November 30, 2004

Albany - Five percent of people over the age of 12 have tried the deadly drug methamphetamine. That's hundreds of thousands of Americans, many of whom are addicted to meth. Tuesday, some public safety officers meet with state lawmakers to talk about the growing drug epidemic.

Common, easy to buy products can turn a few cold pills into a deadly drug. "Some say it's more addictive that crack," said Major Bill Berry with the Albany Dougherty Drug Unit .

The manufacturing and use of methamphetamine is sky-rocketing in Georgia. "If the trend continues, Georgia will be the number one meth producing state east of the Mississippi River. That's unacceptable," said Major Berry.

So unacceptable, Major Berry asked state representatives to come to Albany to discuss ways of combating the meth problem.

"There's a lot of about meth that isn't known, because it hasn't been studied long enough," said Representative Barbara Reese, of Summerville. Rep. Barbara Reese heads the House Meth Study Committee. She says restricting the sale of ephedrine, found in cold and sinus pills, is law enforcement's leading request.

"Without the ephedrine, you can't make meth. So, I think more strenuous control of that would help," said Austell Police Department Narcotics officer Steven Tarter."

"Right now it's a 300 pill limit. We would like to see that lowered," said Major Berry. Major Berry says more state and federal money is also needed. "If you have to clean up an apartment or house after a meth lab is found, it can run $50,000."

But despite the possible cost, Rep. Reese says cleaning up the statewide meth problem will be a priority for lawmakers this year. She hopes to also introduce a bill to require law enforcers to report any children living in a house where a meth lab was found to DEFACS, because the chemicals used to make the drug are so harmful.

Posted at 4:15PM by kathryn.murchison@walb.com