Citing the spreading use of methamphetamine, the mayors of three of the state’s most populated boroughs signed a letter recently urging legislative funding in the fiscal year 2007 capital budget for a program to educate Alaskans about the dangers of the drug.
Mayor John Williams of the Kenai Peninsula Borough, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, and Matanuska-Susitna Borough Mayor Tim Anderson, members of the Tri-Borough Commission, sent the April 26 letter to Sen. Lyda Green, co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee. That committee is working on the fiscal year 2007 capital budget.
“We write to seek your support to combat a tragic and growing epidemic across our state the abuse of methamphetamine,” the letter stated.
Noting the widespread abuse of the drug within Mat-Su borough communities, Mayor Anderson is spearheading the education effort. According to the letter, Anderson has secured financial pledges totaling about $200,000 from Alaska’s largest communities, including Anchorage, the Kenai Peninsula Borough and the Fairbanks North Star Borough. Further, Anderson is seeking help from Juneau, the North Slope Borough and other communities.
The mayors also said they would be seeking funding help from private retailers, such as Wal-Mart, Carrs-Safeway, Fred Meyer and others that sell products that contain pseudoephedrine and ephedrine, which can be used in the illegal manufacture of methamphetamine.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who met with the Tri-Borough Commission mayors last month, has pledged her support for the campaign and said she would attempt to secure federal funding, the mayors said.
“We envision a public information campaign with brochures, broadcast public service announcements and materials for public schools designed to warn Alaskans of the dangers of meth abuse,” the mayors said. “There currently is no such widespread campaign under way in Alaska.”
The mayors said that meth abuse was becoming rampant, and that even remote villages are experiencing the public health and public safety problems associated with the manufacture, distribution and use of the drug. According to the mayors, meth-related arrests in Alaska are up 640 percent over the past six years, nearly doubling in the past two.
Use of methamphetamine, an extremely addictive drug, has been known to result in severe physical and mental problems, and even death.
The mayors cited a 2004 federal Drug Enforcement Administration report that said the availability of meth was increasing, both from local labs and meth transported into the state.
“Alaska is experiencing an increase in the availability of crystal methamphetamine,” that report stated.
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