The nation’s drug czar was in Iowa today to praise the state’s lawmakers for their groundbreaking work in the war against the illegal drug methamphetamine. “I came here to say thank you,” said John Walters, the director of the White House Office of Drug Control Policy.
An Iowa law that took effect in May put all the cold and allergy meds that were being used to make meth behind the counter, and there’s been a 76 percent reduction in the number of meth labs in Iowa as a result.
Other states, like Illinois, have mimicked Iowa’s law and now a federal law will, too, although it’s not as tough as Iowa’s. “It is no exaggeration to say there are children you will never meet and families that you will never hear thank you from whose lives are being saved and will be saved in the months ahead because of what you did,” Walters says. “That is an enormous gift to the country and an enormous gift to the state.”
Walters says because of Iowa’s new law which restricts the sale of products like Sudafed and Nyquil — products that contain pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient in meth — there’s not only been a reduction in the number of meth labs in Iowa, there have been other side benefits. There’s been a 57 percent reduction in the number of meth-related child abuse cases reported to the state.
Iowa law enforcement agencies say they’ve saved about two-million dollars they would have spent cleaning up meth labs, and the burn unit at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics has spend two-and-a-half million dollars less this year — money they spent last year caring for people who were burned in meth labs.
“This has been a damaging phenomenon that’s required a lot of hands to clean it up. The good news that we’re here to celebrate is the damage is much less and I know none of you will rest until the damage is even much less still so thank you. We could not ask for better partners,” Walters said. “On behalf of the president who I work for, thank you for making this country a better place not only here but throughout the nation and throughout the world.”
The “drug czar” praised Iowa’s governor, who signed the law, as well as legislators who were involved in crafting it.
Representative Clel Baudler, a Republican from Greenfield, is the retired state trooper who was the lead architect of the law. “I tell you, that was kind of neat for a southwest Iowa farm boy to get recognized by the White House,” Baudler says. “There was something that Director Walters said during his speech: ‘The children we will never meet and the families that will never say thank you have been tremendously affected by what we’ve done here.'” Baudler calls that a gratifying moment.