Iowa’s “Drug Czar” held a public hearing today to discuss the strategies being used to fight the drug war in the state. Marvin Van Haaften used the hearing on the Iowa Communications Network to get input as he develops his latest state plan for fighting drugs. The coordinator of the Office of Drug Control Policy says methamphetamine remains one of the biggest concerns as Iowa is ranked sixth by national officials in states with meth activity. Van Haaften says they discussed the focus of the efforts to keep meth out of Iowa. He says about 80-percent of the meth here is brought in from outside. He says they talked about how they’re so focused on shutting down labs here that maybe they aren’t paying enough attention to the meth coming in from outside the state. He says local officials say restricting the sale of the main ingredients used to make meth — known as “precursors”– have helped slow down meth production.He says one of the police chiefs mentioned how effective local ordinances restricting the sale of precursors have been. Van Haaften says his office is working on a state law restricting the sale of precursors, and says that work includes a survey of people’s attitudes toward the practice. Van Haaften cites the ordinance of Hazelton in eastern Iowa that restricts the sale of psuedoephederine — a meth precursor. Van Haaften also believes a federal grant that paid for locks for anhydrous ammonia tanks has help cut back the number of meth labs, as it’s another precursor. He says it appears that the 26 counties that’ve used the locks have seen a drop in the number of meth labs busted. Van Haaften says it’s too early to say there’s a direct link, but he suspects the link is there. Van Haaften says they also talked about treating meth users. He says the meth addict has to be handled differently than other drug abusers. He says rehabilitating meth addicts takes longer too. Van Haaften says he hopes to have his new drug control policy plan ready by November.
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