Don’t cut federal funds to fight meth in Hawaii
The Justice Department's inspector general reported that some states have not received their fair share of federal anti-meth funds.
THE Bush administration is asking that members of Congress stop earmarking federal funds to fight methamphetamine problems in their states, and Hawaii is held up as an example of a state that has been receiving too much. The reasoning is deeply flawed and Congress should ignore it.
The inspector general of the Justice Department reports that Hawaii received $8.8 million, the fourth- highest amount of federal anti-meth money from the department's Community Oriented Policing Services from 1998 through 2004, although its 76 meth lab seizures ranked only 38th among the states. The report regards states "with the most significant meth problem" to be those with the most lab seizures.
The report fails to recognize that 80 percent of meth is smuggled into the country, 65 percent from superlabs in Mexico, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. Hawaii's most significant law-enforcement actions against crystal meth in recent years have been aimed at smugglers, not small labs.
Oklahoma's 2004 ban on over-the-counter sales of medicines containing pseudoephedrine, used to make crystal meth in small labs, reduced that state's lab seizures by 90 percent, but its seizures of meth originating in Mexico rose nearly fivefold. Measuring a state's meth problem by the number of lab seizures is absurd.
The report also criticizes Hawaii for directing most of its grants to a nonprofit organization "for a variety of multi-drug-related endeavors," such as after-school programs, treatment, law enforcement and public awareness programs.
That is because ice dominates Hawaii's illicit drug problem. Studies have shown the percentage of men arrested for drug use who tested positive for ice is the highest in the nation. More than half of Hawaii's drug cases involve ice, compared with 14.2 percent nationally. Unfortunately, any suggestion that Hawaii's crystal meth problem is less significant than other states is badly mistaken.
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