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U.S. 'Winning' Methamphetamine Battle, Czar Says

Summary, JoinTogether.org, July 25, 2006

Citing state laws to control precursor chemicals used to make methamphetamine, U.S. drug czar John Walters claimed a measure of success in controlling use of the drug, the Oregonian reported July 21.

"I would say we're winning, but we're not done," said Walters, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, during a meeting in Portland, Ore. "Nobody's taking a victory lap."

Walters said that controlling the substances that are used to make meth -- ephedrine and pseudoephedrine -- is the key to limiting availability of the drug. "When you can effectively control the precursor, you prevent the production of meth, you save lives," Walters said. "This state has proved that; Oklahoma's proved that. Other states have used controls to prove that. We're taking that nationally; we're taking that globally."

Walters said state laws limiting over-the-counter sales of drugs containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine addressed the 20 percent of meth supply coming from small, local labs, while international efforts are underway to attack the supply lines for meth "superlabs" -- mostly in Mexico -- that now supply 80 percent or more of the drug found in the U.S. Walters said that the purity of Mexican methamphetamine may be declining, possibly because of efforts by the Mexican government to curb imports of pseudoephedrine.

The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs also is calling for countries to supply more information on their imports and exports of meth precursor chemicals. Experts say that a few factories in Germany, India and China produce most of the world's supply of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, and Walters said that China and India recognize the problem.

"The Chinese are worried about the effect on their society," Walters said. "You've got horrible situations in Thailand and other parts of Asia. So these countries have not only a desire to stop the criminal activity, but they have a domestic nightmare that they're facing, in some cases, if they do not work together."

Despite congressional criticism, Walters insisted that marijuana, not meth, is the nation's biggest drug problem.

"Was meth an epidemic in some parts of the country? Is it maybe today, in the way it's growing? Yes," he said. "But is it the only drug problem? Is it the worst drug problem? Is it an epidemic everywhere? The answer is no."

"People don't want to hear about [the marijuana] epidemic," Walters added. "They don't want to hear that BC Bud and high-potency marijuana are coming into our country. We've got more kids dependent on marijuana than all other illegal drugs combined. There is a kind of blind spot here that I think has to be confronted: 'Marijuana is OK. It's all the other hard drugs that are bad.' That's silly."