Minnesota's anti-meth law is a big success story
An anti- methamphetamine law passed in Minnesota three years ago has been a big success.
The law change resulted in drastically fewer meth labs, and in much less meth available to users, according to Becker County Sheriff Tim Gordon, and a new report by the Minnesota Department of Health.
The report, Methamphetamine in Minnesota: a report on the impact of one illicit drug, is the first comprehensive review of the impact of meth in Minnesota.
It describes historical trends and economic costs of meth use; outcomes of the 2005 anti-meth law; and the range of national, state and local efforts aimed at combating meth.
It also provides recommendations for further strengthening efforts to reduce the use of meth and other drugs.
The report's key findings include:
- Between 2003 and 2007, the number of reported meth labs decreased by 92 percent. The number of reported meth labs in Minnesota peaked in 2003, at nearly 500.
- Drug arrests in the category that includes meth peaked in 2005 at 4,790, and declined 19 percent from 2005 to 2006. There have been more than 20,000 arrests for felony meth offenses in Minnesota since 2001.
- On January 1, 2006, there were 1,138 meth offenders in Minnesota state prisons. This number declined 15 percent between 2006 and 2008, to 969 meth offenders on January 1, 2008.
- Between 2004 and 2007, more than 3,000 residents of the Twin Cities area went to a hospital emergency department because of ill effects of meth.
- At least 35,000 individuals have entered treatment for meth use and addiction in Minnesota since 2000. Between 2005 and 2007, admissions for meth-related chemical dependency treatment decreased by 34 percent.
- Since 2001, physicians reported that more than 1,000 Minnesota mothers used meth during pregnancy, endangering themselves and their children. Reported prenatal use of meth decreased 34 percent between 2005 and 2007.
Gordon says after the law took effect, no meth labs were found in the half-dozen counties served by the West Central Minnesota Drug Task Force for more than two years.
Just recently, meth cooks have started to find a way around the restrictions on decongestants -- two meth labs have been discovered in the region in the past three weeks, Gordon said.
But now law enforcement is ahead of the game, he added, and is in a much better position to keep a lid on the meth problem.
Similar laws have not worked everywhere: Oregon was flooded with cheap Mexican meth when it closed down its local meth labs.
But Gordon says that didn't happen in Minnesota. So hats off to a law that works.