WASHINGTON – The U.S. government announced a new synthetic drug control strategy Thursday that calls for a 15 percent reduction in methamphetamine and prescription drug abuse in three years.
“Although teen drug use in the United States has dropped by nearly 20 percent over the last three years,” said John Walters,director of national drug control policy,“we will not let up on the pressure being applied to the methamphetamine market. The aggressive measures called for in the synthetics strategy build upon significant progress already made as a result of law enforcement efforts.”
Methamphetamine is also known by many more street names such as ice,speed and crystal meth. It is highly addictive and can be injected,snorted,smoked or swallowed. It can be produced in small,hard-to-detect labs and is made with materials that have been easy to find.
Walter said drug use “is a behavior that starts with our youth in the United States. If you don't try by age 20,you're unlikely to go on and try.”
Walters said the strategy has three goals over the next three years:
* To reduce methamphetamine use by15 percent.
* To reduce the number of meth labs by 25 percent.
* To reduce prescription drug abuse by 15 percent.
The policy also lays out ways to prevent the distribution and use of methamphetamine.
This starts with extensive communication and what Walters called a “unique expression of cooperation” with Mexico and other international partners,including India,Germany and China.
That will include tightening control over shipments of so-called precursor chemicals,or raw materials needed to make meth.
“If you can cut off the precursor,you can see the number of small,toxic labs go down dramatically,” Walters said.
Methamphetamine is cheap and easy to produce. Legislation approved last year required that products – mainly cold medications – that contained pseudoephedrine,one of meth's main ingredients,be kept behind store counters. It also limited how much can be sold to an individual.
The use of methamphetamine was originally a problem in only select parts of the country. However it has now spread worldwide. Mike Braun,chief of operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration,referred use of methamphetamine as a “global epidemic.”
“The synthetic strategy is a comprehensive plan that focuses on reducing the supply of methamphetamine and controlled substance prescription drugs through aggressive enforcement efforts,” said Rachel Brand,assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Policy.
Walters said controlling illegal immigration will help control illegal drug imports.
“This is not an either or,” he said.