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Methamphetamines on the rise in Missouri

February 13, 1998
By: YAra El-Sayed
MDN Columbia Bureau

It is sometimes referred to as the crack of the 90s, crank or ice; and is smoked, snorted or injected. Missouri now ranks number one in the production of this illegal drug.

State Senator Harry Wiggins of Kansas City says there are hundreds of methamphetamine production houses in the state.

Wiggins says, "I am determined to begin stopping this problem now and feel confident that I have full support in the state senate."

He has proposed senate bill 560 to deal with the treatment of drug offenders in Missouri. The senate has officially debated the bill and it will be voted on soon. If the bill becomes law, it would create a board of three agencies including the director of the department of mental health.

The board will try be to rehabilitate anybody arrested for addiction to methamphetamines.

Bob Bax is a spokesperson for the state Mental Health Department.

"We support the efforts to provide treatment to people with substance abuse problems; and are willing to work with other agencies to get this problem under control."

He says last year the department of mental health treated more than 16-hundred methamphetamine addicts, which is almost twice as many as 1995. These were all people who sought help on their own.

Bax does not know how the department will deal with the growing number of victims placed in the board's custody.

"It will be a lot of work and there are a lot of things we would have to iron out with the legislators but we are prepared to do so."

Criminal defense attorneys at the office of Inglish and Monoco in Jefferson City testified against the bill during a committee hearing. The Missouri Digital News contacted the law office which refused to comment. Wiggins says that the criminal attorneys normally do not support stronger laws. because it makes it more difficult for the lawyers' clients.

Congress has recently proposed an anti-methamphetamine bill of its own. US. Rep. Jerry Lewis sponsored a methamphetamine elimination bill. It includes harsher federal penalties for addicts.