President Joe Biden on Monday signed legislation designed to address the rising scourge of meth abuse in the United States.
The new law, titled the Methamphetamine Response Act, “requires the government to declare methamphetamine an ‘emerging drug threat’ and to develop a response plan specific to methamphetamine,” according to a press release.
The bill had bipartisan support in the House of Representatives and Senate: its sponsors were Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Reps. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) and John Curtis (R-Utah).
Feinstein, the senior California senator, thanked Biden for signing the bill into law, noting statistics that have shown meth abuse to have “soared in recent years.”
According to a study from the National Institutes of Health, “overdose deaths involving methamphetamine nearly tripled from 2015 to 2019 among people ages 18-64 in the United States.” That study, released last year, showed that the “number of people who reported using methamphetamine during this time did not increase as steeply, but the analysis found that populations with methamphetamine use disorder have become more diverse,” suggesting that “increases in higher-risk patterns of methamphetamine use, such as increases in methamphetamine use disorder, frequent use, and use of other drugs at the same time, may be contributing to the rise in overdose deaths.”
Earlier this month, the NIH reported that an “analysis of law enforcement seizures of illegal drugs in five key regions of the United States revealed a rise in methamphetamine and marijuana (cannabis) confiscations during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“After working on this critical issue for the last few years, I’m pleased to see our Methamphetamine Response Act has been signed into law after receiving strong bipartisan support from Congress,” Grassley said in the press release. “While meth isn’t a new drug, traffickers are finding ways to increase its potency and widen distribution, which has resulted in a spike in overdose rates. Our new law will help law enforcement better respond to the challenges presented by drug traffickers’ evolving tactics, and it will ensure our federal partners continue prioritizing a response and strategy to address the meth crisis. I’d like to thank Senator Feinstein for her partnership on this issue.”
Along with declaring meth an emerging drug threat, the new law will require the Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act to “develop, implement and make public, within 90 days of enactment, a national emerging threats response plan that is specific to methamphetamine.”
That plan, according to the press release, must be updated each year and include the following: “An assessment of the methamphetamine threat, including the current availability of, and demand for the drug, and evidence-based prevention and treatment programs, as well as law enforcement programs; short- and long-term goals, including those focused on supply and demand reduction, and on expanding the availability and effectiveness of treatment and prevention programs; performance measures pertaining to the plan’s goals; the level of funding needed to implement the plan; and an implementation strategy, goals, and objectives for a media campaign.”
Rep. Peters, a California Democrat, referred to his home district, which includes San Diego, in discussing his support for the new law.
“Once known as the meth capital of the United States, San Diego has a long history in working to combat methamphetamine production and addiction. Law enforcement officials still refer to our region as ‘ground zero’ for the nation’s meth problem, and a surge in the amount of the drug smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border in recent years has caused overdose cases to skyrocket,” said Peters. “The new law will address this issue head-on by requiring the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to develop, implement and make public a national plan to prevent methamphetamine addiction and overdoses from becoming a crisis. As meth-related deaths continue to rise with each passing year, we must recognize meth as an emerging threat nationwide.”