#188 Meth Causes Madness At California Newspapers

Date: Tue, 10 Oct 2000
Subject: #188 Meth Causes Madness At California Newspapers

Meth Causes Madness At California Newspapers


DrugSense FOCUS Alert #188 Tuesday October 10, 2000

Even as media coverage of the war on drugs becomes more balanced, some
newspapers continue to cover drug issues the old-fashioned way: with
scare stories and the optimistic notion that the drug war will work if
we just put some more money into it. A mammoth 16-page report about
methamphetamine appeared in the Fresno Bee and other Bee papers this
week that attempted to reinforce all the old stereotypes about drugs
and drug policy, as the editorial below illustrates (if you have a lot
of time on your hands and you want to hear more details, the articles
from the report have been archived at http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v00/n1511/a03.htm).

Please write a letter to the newspapers to let them know that as long
as they remain committed to drug prohibition, they are only helping to
increase the problems associated with illegal drugs.


It’s not what others do it’s what YOU do


Phone, fax etc.)

Please post a copy your letter or report your action to the sent
letter list (sentlte@mapinc.org) if you are subscribed, or by
E-mailing a copy directly to MGreer@mapinc.org Your letter will then
be forwarded to the list with so others can learn from your efforts
and be motivated to follow suit

This is VERY IMPORTANT as it is the only way we have of gauging our
impact and effectiveness.



Source: Fresno Bee, The (CA)
Contact: letters@fresnobee.com

Source: Modesto Bee
Contact: letters@modbee.com

Source: Sacramento Bee
Contact: opinion@sacbee.com



US CA: A Madness Called Meth, Editorial
URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v00/n1509/a02.html
Newshawk: Jo-D and Tom-E
Pubdate: Sun, 08 Oct 2000
Source: Fresno Bee, The (CA)
Copyright: 2000 The Fresno Bee
Contact: letters@fresnobee.com
Feedback: http://www.fresnobee.com/man/opinion/letters.html
Website: http://www.fresnobee.com/
Forum: http://www.fresnobee.com/man/projects/webforums/opinion.html
Note: This series also ran in the Modesto Bee (letters@modbee.com) and the
Sacramento Bee ( opinion@sacbee.com), A Special Report by the McClatchy
Company’s California Newspapers with a special website:
MAP’s index is at: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v00/n1500/a04.html

A Madness Called Meth: Editorial


Speed, crank, crystal, ice: Whatever its street name these days,
methamphetamine represents a threat — not only to the people who use
it, but to their children, their neighbors, the environment and the
wider community.

Unlike previous drug scourges, the meth epidemic is uniquely American
in origin. Alarmingly, as a team of Bee reporters from Modesto, Fresno
and Sacramento document in today’s special 18-page section, “A Madness
Called Meth,” California’s great Central Valley is meth’s principal
breeding ground and the place where the bulk of its victims live.

Overdosed meth addicts crowd Valley hospitals.

From Redding to Bakersfield, their abused and neglected children
swell the rolls of foster care. With increasing and deadly frequency,
the makeshift labs where they cook their drugs erupt into flames,
spewing toxic chemicals and leaving poisonous residues that threaten
groundwater and force costly cleanups.

The number of drug labs discovered in California has soared, from 559
in 1995 to more than 2,000 last year. Police — local, state and
federal — have spent countless hours and millions of dollars chasing
meth traffickers. They close a lab only to find that three others pop
up to take its place.

They cut off the supply of one ingredient chemical and the meth
merchants find a substitute. Penalties are stiff, but when the choice
is between $6.40 an hour picking fruit or a dead-end job in the city,
and thousands of dollars a day cooking meth, an endless supply of
people will take the risk.

What is meth’s lure? The drug floods the brain with dopamine, a
natural chemical that stimulates pleasure.

Soon the body craves more and more. Over time, meth addicts can’t live
without it. The craving is so powerful that if they can’t buy from
suppliers, meth addicts will make their own brews, using recipes
available over the Internet or in book shops, with ingredients that
can be purchased in bulk from drugstores.

The side effects of chronic use include itchy scalps and skin, scabs
from all the scratching and teeth that fall out. The drug triggers
sleeplessness, agitation and violence.

Researchers say the damage to the brain may be irreversible. Because
meth has not generated the kind of gang warfare and shootouts that
have attended other drug epidemics in the country — cocaine, for
example — Congress has failed to recognize or address the magnitude
of meth’s growing threat.

Compared with federal drug-fighting funds approved for other states
and regions, Bee reporters found that Central California’s
meth-fighting efforts have been shortchanged. While San Diego gets $10
million from the federal government to combat drug trafficking,
Milwaukee $4.5 million and Lake County, Indiana, $3 million, the nine
Valley counties that stretch from Sacramento to Kern receive just $1.5
million from the federal government, the smallest drug-fighting budget
for any region in the country.

That has to change.

Money is needed in large amounts for education, enforcement, treatment
and environmental cleanup.

Unfortunately, politicians, at both the state and federal level, have
failed to grasp the scope of the problem.

Gov. Gray Davis inexcusably vetoed a bill that would have created meth
site cleanup standards.

He called the $3 million price tag too expensive, a shocking
indication of how steep the learning curve is, even for our own governor.

Where are our champions in Washington, the Valley’s representatives in
Congress — Gary Condit, George Radanovich, Calvin Dooley and William
Thomas? Where are our senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer?
What can we expect from our state legislators, Jim Costa, Chuck
Poochigian, Dick Monteith, George House, Mike Briggs, Sarah Reyes,
Dean Florez and Roy Ashburn?

Predictably and understandably, local and state governments’ limited
answer to the meth threat has been to attack the supply side. It’s a
response weighted toward cops and prosecutors, leaving little for
education, treatment and cleanup.

One recent evening in Kern County, 29 officers, county sheriffs’
deputies, city police, and state and federal narcotics officers
gathered to bust one meth dealer, a man who’d been under surveillance
for months.

Bee reporters totaled up the law enforcement cost for putting just six
members of a big Fresno-based meth ring in prison: $2.1 million.

An adequate police response to attack the supply side of the meth
threat is essential. But it’s also true that the money will be largely
wasted if government doesn’t act simultaneously to reduce demand.

Resources to attack the demand side — money for treatment and
education — are almost nonexistent. In Butte County north of
Sacramento, meth addicts desperate for treatment are instructed to
call a number every Monday between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. Mostly they are
told to call back later.

Beyond more treatment, there is an urgent need for education about the
special dangers of this awful drug. Anyone tempted to try meth should
see the before-and-after pictures of Jackie Hughes, the former Sears
model reduced after years of meth abuse to a toothless crone with bald
patches on her head and scabs on her face. They ought to hear the
story of Douglas Haaland Jr., the father who, agitated after coming
down from an eight-day meth binge, beat his 4-year-old son to death
and will spend the rest of his life in prison.

They should see Amber Walker, the 3-month-old who died of starvation,
wide-eyed in her crib in a squalid Bakersfield motel, leaving behind a
meth-addicted mother who rarely touched her.

“The Madness of Meth” is both a warning and a plea. To the public,
it’s a warning about the dangers this drug poses: Don’t try it. To
policy-makers, it’s a plea — and a demand.

We need more help to stop the traffickers, to clean up the toxic mess
they leave behind.

And we urgently need resources to treat the addicts more effectively and to
educate the vulnerable. Without serious investments in all those areas, the
chase will never end. Meth will win and we will lose.


To the editor:

I spent a significant portion of my day wading through the thousands
of words in your report “A Madness Called Meth.” While there were some
moving human portraits, and the depth of the problem was clearly
illustrated, I must say all the effort was for naught, as editors
lacked the guts to clearly address the root of the situation: drug
prohibition itself.

Users of legal drugs like tobacco and alcohol don’t have an incentive
to subsidize their own habits by encouraging friends and acquaintances
to pick up the same habits. But, methamphetamine users quickly learn
that they can get high for free and actually make some good money on
the side by selling part of their stash. More enterprising users
realize they can produce the drug with little time or investment to
make truly impressive profits. Those manufacturers have no incentive
to deal with the byproducts of the process in a responsible way. They
dispose of hazardous waste clandestinely, leaving the mess for someone

When you are all done patting yourselves on the back for allegedly
exposing a great menace, I suggest everyone who contributed to the
report, especially those who conceived and shaped it, read journalist
Dan Gardner’s series “Losing the war on drugs” published in the Ottawa
Citizen last month (it’s still online at http://www.ottawacitizen.com/national/drugs/).
See how compelling and enlightening honest reporting can be when it’s
not encumbered by the requirements of ideology.

Stephen Young

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at least somewhat so that the paper does not receive numerous copies of the
same letter and so that the original author receives credit for his/her work.

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Prepared by Stephen Young – http://home.att.net/~theyoungfamily Focus
Alert Specialist