State: Task force trying to fight meth ‘plague’ |

State: Task force trying to fight meth ‘plague’

Statistics on Colorado methamphetamine use from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the state Human Services Department:

  • Colorado recorded 149 methamphetamine lab incidents last year.
  • Methamphetamine has surpassed cocaine for triggering the highest number of drug-related calls to the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Centers.
  • In 2005, methamphetamine was the primary drug in 31 percent of all treatment admissions statewide, excluding alcohol.

The average age for trying methamphetamines is 21.

Statewide last year, 37 percent of people admitted for meth treatment were first-timers.

The Associated Press

— Thornton police commander Lori Moriarty said she was stunned when the North Metro Task Force discovered a 10-year-old was living amid the dangerous fumes of a home meth lab — and had somehow been overlooked on four previous raids.

Then task force members told her they turned the child over to a neighbor instead of social services, because they feared the agency would simply return the child to a family member involved in the lab.

“We gave a child to a lady driving by. That is unacceptable in Colorado,” she said Tuesday at the first meeting of the Colorado Methamphetamine Task Force.

The panel, which also includes Attorney General John Suthers and 25 others, was set up by lawmakers to find solutions to a problem they equated to a plague.

Moriarty, who also commands the North Metro Task Force, told the panel that police do not routinely check with social service agencies before they raid a home to learn whether children are living there. She convinced undercover officers their focus should be on children first and drugs second.

Suthers said that’s just one of the programs the state is exploring. He said a number of counties have launched their own campaigns against meth labs that are not being coordinated with others.

Janet Wood, director of the alcohol and drug abuse division in the Department of Human Services, said one indication of soaring methamphetamine use in Colorado is the fact that meth users accounted for 31 percent of everyone admitted to treatment programs in 2005, up from 14 percent in 2000.

She said meth has surpassed cocaine as the third-most-abused drug in the state, behind alcohol and marijuana.

Wood said families are often hit hard because about half of meth users are women, compared with a fourth of the population for most other drugs.

Lawmakers set up the task force after first trying other measures, including limits on the ingredients to make meth and programs to prevent and treat use.

This year, Gov. Bill Owens signed a bill that requires home sale contracts to disclose whether the property was ever used as a methamphetamine laboratory because hazardous chemicals often require a costly cleanup.

Suthers said the task force will meet six times a year and will report to lawmakers in January on progress.

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