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WASHINGTON — Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, is part of a bipartisan group that introduced legislation Thursday to battle methamphetamine addiction and overdoses.
The Methamphetamine Response Act was introduced by Curtis along with California Democrats Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Scott Peters, as well as Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.
The bill would declare methamphetamine an emerging drug threat and require the Office of National Drug Control Policy to develop a plan to prevent meth from becoming a public health crisis.
"Over the last decade, methamphetamine addiction and fatalities have skyrocketed across the United States — especially in rural areas like the ones I am proud to represent," Curtis said in a news release. "The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the problem by spreading resources thinly and making it more difficult to connect with individuals in need of support. To combat this threat, I am proud to co-lead the bipartisan Methamphetamine Response Act, which channels the necessary resources at the highest levels of government to develop and implement a nationwide plan to prevent this dangerous drug from becoming even more prevalent in our communities."
If passed, the bill would require the Office of National Drug Control Policy to develop and make public a methamphetamine prevention plan within 90 days. That plan would then be updated annually with a new assessment of the drug's supply and demand, and the latest developments in effective treatment and law enforcement programs.
"One thing I've thought about since methamphetamine has made a 'comeback' is that it never really went away in Utah," said Meghan Balough, violence and injury prevention epidemiologist for the Utah Department of Health, in an email. "It's always been here but the problem has often been overshadowed by the opioid epidemic."
According to the health department, methamphetamine is currently the most common substance involved in drug overdose deaths in Utah. Meth overdose deaths have increased 68% statewide since 2010, the department says, and there were approximately 3,900 meth-related emergency room visits in Utah in 2020.