Sen. John Kerry’s presidential campaign on Monday unveiled a nationwide plan to fight methamphetamine use and production, which has plagued Missouri since at least 2001, when the state became the national leader in labs seized.
The plan, announced by Kerry’s running mate, Sen. John Edwards, in a nationwide conference call with reporters, calls for $30 million per year in additional spending on law enforcement, education, lab clean-up and measures to prevent common methamphetamine ingredients from falling into the hands of potential “cooks.”
It will be paid for by reductions in what Edwards called “wasteful government spending,” although he did not offer any specific spending cuts.
Calling methamphetamine “a cancer on rural America,” Edwards cited a 79 percent increase nationwide in lab seizures since President Bush took office as evidence that the drug is a growing problem.
To reduce the trend, the plan specifically calls for tighter restrictions on the sale of pseudoephedrine, sold commonly as cold pills such as Sudafed.
Republicans, however, are skeptical.
“Sen. Kerry says he wants to fight meth, but his record shows he’s voted against stricter penalties for meth cooks and opposed increased funding to reduce meth manufacturing, possession and use,” said Republican spokesman Rich Chrismer, referring to a 1999 Senate vote.
Methamphetamine use and production has been an escalating problem in Missouri.
In 2003, 2,858 meth labs were seized in Missouri, compared with 2,748 in 2002 and 2,180 in 2001, according to statistics from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. As of August, 1,460 labs had been seized this year.
It has also been a problem in numerous other states identified by pollsters as “swing states,” including Michigan, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Minnesota.