While tackling opiate addiction has been a big part of his first two years in office, Wisconsin’s attorney general say he wants to start focusing on a meth problem that’s still prevalent in parts of the state.
Lawmakers and the Department of Justice have taken big steps forward with efforts to reduce access to prescription opiates, a common gateway to people moving on to heroin. However, Attorney General Brad Schimel says some parts of the state are actually facing a bigger problem with methamphetamine abuse. “In the Northwoods and a lot of western counties…they’re seeing the meth problem eclipsing the opiate problem,” he says.
Wisconsin shut down dozens of meth production labs in the early 2000s. While still present, cases of them being found started to drop off late in the decade. The state Department of Justice says much of the meth making its way into the state now is coming from Mexico, and is being transported here from California and other border states.
Schimel says he hopes to launch the same kind of public awareness and law enforcement campaigns that have helped the state fight opiate abuse. The “Dose of Reality” campaign has resulted in thousands of pounds of old prescription medications found in homes being safely disposed of, cutting off a key supply line for those who use the drugs, while also raising awareness about the dangers users face.
Schimel says battling methamphetamine use needs to take a similar approach – by getting dealers off the streets and reducing demand for the drug. “We’re going to work on both the supply side and the demand side,” he says. “We’re working to enforce those who are trafficking in the drug, but we’re also working to reduce the demand.”