State officials say the dramatic decline in the discovery of meth labs in Iowa may save taxpayers money if it’s a long-term trend. Officials on Monday said Iowa’s new law that restricts the sale of over-the-counter medications with pseudoephedrine has led to a 75-and-a-half percent decline in meth lab busts the past three months. Ken Carter, director of the Iowa division of narcotics enforcement, says cleaning up a meth lab is expensive. Carter estimates it costs about two-thousand dollars just to buy the products used to cleanup meth labs. He says diverting cops and other law enforcement officials to the task of cleaning up meth labs costs salary money that could be spent, better, elsewhere. For example, about 80 percent of the meth consumed in Iowa comes from out-of-state, and Carter says having fewer meth labs to bust and cleanup means law enforcement will redirect the meth-fight. “We’re very concerned about what’s being imported into the state and now we can better focus our attention to that,” Carter says. Governor Tom Vilsack cautions Iowans against thinking the war on meth has been won just because of the dramatic reduction in the number of clandestine meth labs that’ve been found in May, June and July. Vilsack says research must continue at Iowa State University, seeking an additive for anhydrous ammonia which would render it useless as an ingredient for meth.Vilsack says more farmers need to put locks on their anhydrous ammonia tanks. Vilsack says Iowa’s teens must continue to hear how dangerous meth is — because using meth just once cements an addiction. The governor says it’s important, too, for the state to provide more money for drug treatment. “For those who do make the tragic mistake of getting hooked on this drug, this is not a situation where you can have a couple of weeks of rehab and then you’re free,” Vilsack says. “It’s a long process, a very long process.” The state may save money, in the long run, on equipment purchases, too. The Iowa Department of Public Safety just spent one-hundred-22 thousand dollars to buy equipment that protects state officers from the noxious chemicals at a meth lab bust.
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