More than 200 federal, state, and local officials will gather this week in Atlanta for a summit on the rapid spread of methamphetamine before it overwhelms law enforcement, the courts, social services, and drug treatment centers, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It has been just rampant,” said Becky Vaughn, president of the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse. “We are at a point right now where we’ve seen a real spike in arrests and treatment admissions. Our goal is to try to keep that rampage from charging through Georgia.”
Last year, police raided 701 meth labs in Georgia, up from 29 four years earlier. By the end of May, the count for this year already had reached 373. The drug also is imported into Georgia from large labs in Mexico. Gov. Sonny Perdue and the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse are hosting the federally funded summit Tuesday and Wednesday. Those invited include police, fire and emergency officials; health, drug treatment, child protection and environmental officials; and lawmakers, judges, prosecutors, educators, retailers and even motel operators, because some people make meth in rented rooms. A hot topic is likely to be a new law in Oklahoma credited with cutting the number of meth labs there in half. Under that law, effective in April, only pharmacies may sell tablets containing pseudoephedrine, such as Sudafed, a key ingredient of the illegal drug. Convenience stores and other retailers had to remove the tablets from their shelves. The pharmacies must keep the drugs behind their counters and require customers to show photo identification and sign for the medicine. The number of meth labs raided in Oklahoma dropped from 100 in March to 50 in June.