Although the 320 seventh-graders scheduled to attend Gov. Bob Holden’s speech Tuesday were at home enjoying a snow day, the governor still spoke firmly about a new statewide initiative on methamphetamine education, prevention and treatment.
Addressing a small crowd of law enforcement officers and state officials gathered at Lewis and Clark Middle School in Jefferson City, Gov. Holden emphasized the widespread dangers associated with Missouri’s methamphetamine problem, including addiction, violent behavior and the environmental hazards related to meth production.
“Meth is a huge menace to our society,” Holden said after announcing the addition of two task forces and the reorganization of an existing task force.
One of the new task forces, the Missouri Methamphetamine Education and Prevention Task Force, will be made up of specialists in the fields of education and treatment. The task force will address a number of issues concerning meth, including the dangers of meth manufacturing and consumption. It will also establish a central resource for meth-related information.
The Missouri Methamphetamine Treatment Task Force will promote research into treatment approaches and examine ways to provide more access to treatment services. Holden also announced the renaming of an existing force. Under the new initiative, the Clandestine Lab Task Force will be called the Methamphetamine Enforcement and Environmental Protection Task Force.
The renamed task force will extend its focus to protecting law enforcement officers from the environmental dangers associated with meth production. The governor said Missouri led the nation with nearly 2,800 seizures of meth labs in 2003. However, Holden said, law enforcement statistics continue to show a rise in the number of meth labs throughout the state.