There’s been an 89 percent drop in the number of illegal methamphetamine labs reported by Iowa law enforcement agencies since a state law took effect in May, 2005, that restricts access to the ingredients for meth.
Gary Kendell, director of the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy, says the law is still making an impact, "which we’re very happy about." The law put cold and allergy medications that contain pseudoephedrine — the main ingredient for meth — behind the pharmacist’s counter and it restricts the amount of those meds a person can buy at one time.
Kendell says the law has helped dramatically reduce the amount of meth labs discovered in Iowa. "Our monthly average for 2007 is 14 a month," Kendell says. "That goes back to 125 a month that we had before we passed the pseudoephedrine restriction law." Three years ago, there were about 15-hundred meth labs busted in the state. So far this year, there have been 70.
"We still haven’t beaten this thing completely," Kendell says. "…We’d ask people to continue their efforts and their vigilance in keeping an eye out for people who are involved in this activity." Iowa law enforcement officials had hoped to be able to shift drug-fighting resources from meth lab clean-up to catching drug traffickers, but Kendell says a significant reduction in federal support of the so-called "drug war" made that impossible.
"There’s been almost a 60 percent reduction in federal funding available to law enforcement for drug enforcement efforts in the state of Iowa over the last five years," Kendell says. "Unfortunately, what we had hoped would happen as far as being able to put these additional resources toward the trafficking organizations, we’ve been not as able to do that as we would have liked because of the decrease in federal funding."