Delegation backs meth-fighting efforts

Baucus, Tester, Rehberg Tout Successes, Vow Federal Support

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Solid progress is being made in the fight against methamphetamine, but even more must be done to combat the illicit drug, Montana's three-member Congressional delegation said today.

Montana's Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester, along with Rep. Denny Rehberg, today joined Montana Meth Project founder Tom Siebel at a Capitol Hill news conference, where new data was released showing how effective the Project has been in Montana.

Shortly before that news conference, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Baucus held a hearing in his committee aimed at shutting down illegal meth trafficking at the nation's borders. Siebel said that meth use in Montana has dropped drastically, noting the state ranked fifth-highest in the nation for per-capita meth use in 2005, and as of September 2007 the state ranked 39th in number of meth users.

Baucus, Tester and Rehberg have secured $500,000 for the Montana Meth Project in the fiscal year 2008 Commerce, Science and Justice spending bill, which passed the House in July and is awaiting final approval in the Senate, likely in October. Once finally approved the dollars will be the first federal investment into the Montana Meth Project.

In addition to praising the Montana Meth Project, the delegation highlighted the highly successful Combat Meth Act, which was signed into law last year. The bill limited the sale of medicines containing ephedrine and pseudophedrine, the most common ingredients in meth, and required those products to be under lock-and-key or held behind the counter. Baucus said the Combat Meth Act helped cut the number of meth lab seizures by 42 percent nationwide last year.

"Through programs like the Montana Meth Project, we are getting the upper hand in this fight," Baucus said. "We can't lose the ground we've gained now, we have to beat meth once and for all."

"We're flexing our muscle in the war on meth, and we're only getting stronger," said Tester, who, as President of the Montana Senate, passed state legislation making it harder to buy meth ingredients.  "It's clear that powerful messages and smart laws are working.  But the war on meth isn't behind us.  We'll continue to do everything we can to keep this scourge away from our kids and out of our cities, towns and Indian Country."

"The results of the Montana Meth Project's advertising campaign are nothing short of astounding," said Rehberg.  "Today's survey provides concrete evidence that the tough message these ads are conveying is changing the perception of meth all over Montana.   However, meth abuse doesn't stop at Montana's borders.  It's time for Congress to commit to taking the Montana Meth Project national."

Last year, Rehberg included language in Office of Drug Control Policy reauthorization legislation to require that 10% of all funds dedicated to national media campaigns go toward meth prevention.

Baucus and Tester also included $180,000 in the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education spending bill to fund a program at the University of Montana to research detection and health effects of meth use.