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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, May 4, 2002

Hilo among sites chosen for meetings on meth

Associated Press

Hilo has been chosen as one of four sites to hold a methamphetamine summit that will seek community solutions for the growing drug problem, according to an Arkansas congressman.

Arkansas will host the first summit at May 30 and 31 in North Little Rock with other summits scheduled for Lexington, Ky.; Oklahoma City and Hilo said Sen. Tim Hutchinson, R-Ark.

Arkansas ranks first in the nation in per-capita for the number of meth labs seized, officials said yesterday.

The coming summits will bring together hundreds of officials from federal and state agencies and community groups to try to address problems in stopping meth use.

Hutchinson said meth use continues to spread, and residual crime and other costs to society are growing with the increased use. People hooked on the highly-addictive stimulant are more prone to contract the virus that causes AIDS and hepatitis.

Hutchinson said the human cost of methamphetamine is devastating to users and the people close to them.

"You can't put a price tag on that," he said.

More concrete are the costs to law enforcement to fight the drug, to employers stuck with employees whose productivity drops because of addiction and the price states and counties pay to clean up the hazardous materials left when meth labs are busted.

John Lunt, a section chief for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency said the forum is designed to provide officials with information they can use to help stop meth use. "This is not a talking-head conference," he said.

Officials attending the conference will be able to apply the information in setting their own goals and timetables, he said.