The Bush administration yesterday released its plan to cut methamphetamine use 15 percent by 2008, largely through efforts to close off the global black market in the drug’s essential ingredients, The Oregonian reports. Federal drug czar John Walters’ announcement — at a news conference with officials from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the State Department, and the Mexican Embassy — marked the first time federal officials have set a specific benchmark for success in curbing meth use. It came three months after President Bush signed the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act, which controlled U.S. sales of cold medicine and laid out unprecedented new responsibilities for the federal government in battling meth internationally.
The strategy’s content and tone dramatically underscore the heightened priority being given to the control of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, cold medicine ingredients. It recommends working with the World Health Organization to promote the development and use of decongestants that cannot be converted to meth. It has only been within the past year that U.S. drug companies have begun introducing phenylephrine as a replacement to pseudoephedrine. It identifies as part of the plan to reduce meth use the expansion of drug courts, targeted televised anti-meth ads and prosecution of high-level traffickers. U.S. Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wa.)., a critic of the administration’s response to meth, called the strategy “a step in the right direction.”