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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, January 1, 2006

What happened to the war on ice?

 •  The burning questions of 2006

By Derrick DePledge
Advertiser Capitol Bureau

Crystal meth keeps turning up on Hawai'is streets.

Advertiser library photo

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The street demonstrations, political summits and dire warnings have mostly passed, but crystal methamphetamine, or ice, still keeps turning up in the Islands in disturbing ways.

A Waipahu man with mental health problems and a history of ice abuse allegedly kills his father and wounds his mother with a hatchet.

The Hawai'i Supreme Court decides that a woman cannot be charged with manslaughter for smoking ice when she's pregnant and her newborn baby dies because a fetus is not a person.

A corrections officer is charged with sneaking ice and marijuana into the Federal Detention Center. A Honolulu police officer pleads guilty to selling crystal meth to a girlfriend who was working as a government informant.

Gov. Linda Lingle and Democratic leaders of the Legislature have not yet mentioned ice as a priority for the upcoming session, although it dominated two sessions ago. The two camps seem as divided as ever over how much to emphasize prevention or treatment.

The Advertiser reported in August that the state does not have a solid estimate of how many people are using the drug, so it is difficult to know whether early accounts of pervasive ice abuse were accurate or how wide the gaps are in treatment.

State Rep. Sylvia Luke, D-26th (Punchbowl, Pacific Heights, Nu'uanu Valley), chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee, said lawmakers probably will want to extend the new treatment money they added in 2004 over Lingle's doubts. Luke said she has also spoken with Big Island officials about strategies to stop ice from entering the state.

Luke said she would likely propose some type of legislation to help law enforcement intercept ice smuggling. "Unless we have a handle on this issue, we're going to continue to struggle with the problem," she said.

Tamah-Lani Noh, drug-control liaison to Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, said the administration may update its drug-control plan from last session, most of which did not advance at the Legislature. Noh also wanted to stress that the Lingle administration wants a broader effort against drug and alcohol abuse, not just ice.

"If we focus on prevention we'll be able to stop this," Noh said.

Reach Derrick DePledge at ddepledge@honoluluadvertiser.com.