Time for action on meth crisis | TheUnion.com

Time for action on meth crisis

The tragic death of United Parcel Service driver Drew Reynolds in a head-on collision with a convicted methamphetamine user has apparently moved Nevada County to come face-to-face with a problem it has been trying to sweep under the carpet for years – that we have a raging meth epidemic on our hands.

The county’s new Substance Abuse Advisory Committee had its first meeting Wednesday, and Supervisor Robin Sutherland wants to see the group’s initial focus to be on meth. We sense the community thinks it’s about time.

There is evidence that Scott Krause, the man who crashed into Reynolds and who now is jailed on charges including murder, had been on a five-day meth bender, and may have intended to take his own life in the crash.

Reynolds’ funeral drew a thousand mourners; yet, it was only the latest in a series of recent violent incidents related to meth use, including a kidnapping and rape, and a carjacking ending in suicide.

We have heard people blame the police for not keeping hopped-up users off the streets, judges for giving addicts multiple chances despite seeing them in court again and again, and treatment programs for not working.

But officers are often restricted in their actions, overcrowded prisons leave judges with no place to send meth-heads, and treatment programs are hamstrung by the budget crisis.

What is a community to do? The Substance Abuse Advisory Committee replaces a methamphetamine task force that was set up two years ago – two years that, frankly, seem to have been wasted in hand-wringing.

We can no longer fool ourselves in thinking the problem will solve itself. A community survey by the Grass Valley police has found that, overwhelmingly, citizens see drug abuse – particularly meth – as the most serious problem they’re facing. On Wednesday, District Attorney Mike Ferguson told the committee that alcohol and drugs are “related to 70 percent of the cases we handle.”

It’s clear that the advisory committee has a mandate to act. We hope they will act decisively, using every resource at their command, before another tragedy.

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