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Hearing of House Committee on Science House of Representatives: H.R. 798, Methamphetamine Remediation Research Act of 2005

Location: Washington, DC


March 3, 2005


Mr. Matheson. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And Mr. Burns, it is good to see an Iron County person here in Washington. Bring some common sense to this town. I appreciate you being here.

Mr. Burns. Thanks for saying that.

Mr. Matheson. I wanted to ask you a quick question about--within ONDCP. How does it break out in terms of resources that look at meth compared to other drugs, say marijuana or whatnot? Do you have a sense of how your resources are devoted to different types of drugs?

Mr. Burns. Yeah, that is a great question, because we know through household survey and we know through the monitoring the future survey that the 19.5 million illegal drug users in this country, about 75 percent are singularly or co-using higher-potency marijuana. We know that about six million are using illegal prescription drugs, about 150 percent increase in the last five years, as many of you know, Oxycontin and Vicodin and Lortab. About three million are using cocaine, 1.5 million using heroin, and 1.5 million using methamphetamines. So if you look at it macro and you look at the numbers, you would ask, ``Why methamphetamine? Why is everybody talking about this drug when of the 19.5, only 1.5 million are using it?'' And the reason why it has been addressed, yaba, ice, crystal, crank, meth, whatever you want to call it, is the most destructive drug. It gives the user an immediate feeling of euphoria and energy, but it doesn't really give it, it just lends it. And what the user has to pay back is at a very, very high cost.

We have, in the National Drug Office, responded. We have responded through the Drug Endangered Children Program, or DEC, wherein we are trying to have each state come up with a program to deal with children that are found in these labs. We have responded through the National Methamphetamine Chemical Initiative, which, frankly, brings together key methamphetamine law enforcement people from all of the jurisdictions across the country two or three times a year to talk about trends shifting from California to Mexico and how we respond. And I would say, frankly, the HIDTA program, 28 HIDTA offices across the country, out of all of the individual drugs, and these areas pick what is their primary threat, there are more initiatives directed towards methamphetamine than any other drug. So hopefully, we have our priorities right.

Mr. Matheson. And do you sense, in terms of--you mentioned the numbers from the last--but in terms of growth of use, I assume meth is one of the higher growth rates in terms of where--compared to the other drugs you have mentioned. Is that a fair statement?

Mr. Burns. Except for the last one or two in the future survey shows a 25 percent reduction among kids, which is encouraging. And you mentioned it is good the media is here. It is good the media is here, because I think we are spreading the word about the destructive nature of this drug.

Mr. Matheson. A question for Dr. Bell. You mentioned how the research you have done has been helpful in developing legislation in your state. And I had to step out for just a minute, so I--you may have addressed this, but I wanted to know if you share the research with other states. And is there a mechanism to provide access where people are sharing their information in that regard?

Dr. Bell. Yes, there is a mechanism. The research that we have done at Tech was done over the Christmas holidays because of safety issues for the students. And it was embargoed until the new bill was introduced about two weeks ago, so it is just now flowing out. The drug task forces and the governor's office both have mechanisms for sharing with other places.

Mr. Matheson. And in terms of development of--you said this is going to help develop some proposed legislation that your governor is supporting, I understand?

Dr. Bell. That is correct.

Mr. Matheson. And do you have a sense of--this is probably not a fair question for you to ask, but are other states trying to look at the Tennessee model now with this proposed legislation?

Dr. Bell. My sense is other states are interested, much like we are interested, in what is happening in other states, so I think this model can be used in other states. There are some challenging issues in the legislation, and certainly the restriction of sale of the over-the-counter drug is one of those. So I know other states will be following it with a great deal of interest.

Mr. Matheson. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


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