Editorial: Meth adds to list of victims

Methamphetamine addiction has wreaked untold damage on human lives over the past two decades, but now its diabolical reach is expanding to hurt the business community.

Last week in Oak Harbor, the Acorn Motor Inn, situated on one of the busiest intersections in town, was closed due to meth contamination. Earlier in the year, meth forced the destruction of a number of used cars at a dealership where the owner was implicated in drug use, and a nearby church thrift store and dance studio were temporarily closed because of meth use nearby.

The human toll of meth is of course the greatest concern, but business owners must also be wary of this terrible scourge. Rental houses in Island County have been ruined by the manufacture of meth; short of that, the use of meth requires an expensive cleanup. Now the drug has reached into the small business community to wreak its havoc.

The Island County Health Department has been teaming up with Oak Harbor police to make sure buildings affected by meth use are made safe before reopening. Employees swab rooms for traces of meth and if found, a cleanup is ordered. The cleanup level as set by the state is a minuscule 0.1 micrograms of meth per 100 square centimeters. Of course, the onus of paying for cleanup is on the building’s owner. The meth users are either long gone or in jail, incapable of paying for anything. With many businesses operating on a thread in this economy, the presence of meth is a threat to their survival.

Oak Harbor business owners are in need of more eduction about methamphetamine use, how to recognized it and, more importantly, how to prevent it. Perhaps the police and health departments could team up in this effort. Meanwhile, someone should invent a meth detector, similar to a smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Judging from Oak Harbor’s experience, demand for the device would be high.

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