Editorial: Island’s meth problem exposed

Authorities in Island County are doing an important job by publicizing the methamphetamine problem and coming up with ways to deal with it.

The Meth Action Team, comprised of law enforcement representatives and various other agencies and service groups, produced a detailed protocol for handling meth situations and the people involved, particularly innocent children who become victims of their parents’ indulgence in meth.

Meth is a highly addictive and destructive drug that is a nationwide problem, and Island County is far from exempt. Sheriff Mike Hawley probably is not exaggerating when he says there’s not a neighborhood in the county without a house containing someone manufacturing and selling meth. These meth houses create a large demand for the drug. People become hooked, and that in turn has resulted in a doubling of the number of household burglaries since 1995, as addicts steal to get money to buy the drug. Even for those not directly affected, meth poses an environmental hazard, producing toxic waste that can ruin rental property and is a real danger to children playing in a meth neighborhood.

There is no easy solution to the problem. There are many suspected meth houses, but getting enough proof to go in and arrest the occupants is difficult. Besides, our jails are already overburdened, and when one meth dealer is put away another quickly takes his place. A new state law makes it more difficult to purchase meth ingredients, but no one expects that will make the problem disappear.

The best way to begin to address the problem is through education, a process the Meth Action team embarked upon earlier this year. Coupeville Town Marshal Lenny Marlborough and other team members have traveled as far as the San Juan Islands to educate the public about the dangers of meth, how to spot and report possible meth houses and users, and how victims of the meth epidemic can find help. Efforts are also under way in the schools to warn kids about the dangers of meth and help those already involved.

To learn more about the meth problem, contact the Island County Meth Action Team through Marshal Lenny Marlborough, 678-4461, or Rosie Noble, 679-1039.

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