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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Lawmakers Consider Study Of Meth's Strain On Montana's Social Services

Shards of methamphetamine hydrochloride, also known as crystal meth.
Radspunk (GFDL)

Lawmakers in Helena Wednesday considered a proposal to study how increased reports of meth use in Montana are impacting the state’s social services.

Representative Ellie Hill Smith, a Missoula Democrat, says the state needs to find a solution for, what she describes as, a meth problem that’s draining state resources:

"Instead of continuing to pour money into overcrowded jails, into the Office of the Public Defender and on and on, perhaps we can find a different way to solve that."

House Joint Resolution 6 says increased use of meth in Montana is corresponding to more work being done in law enforcement investigations, increases in district court caseloads and jail and prison populations. As well as more kids going into foster care.

"The Protect Montana Kids Commission from last session noted that 1000 of the 3000 kids in foster care, so a third, were placed in foster care because of methamphetamine use," Hill Smith says.

Hill Smith’s proposal would require an interim group of lawmakers, attorneys, local law enforcement, district court judges,  public health workers, as well as others, to study how the reported increase of meth use in the state could be costing the state’s social systems.

No one testified against the bill.

Hill Smith says she has received support from numerous groups representing local law enforcement, cites, and counties.

The proposal would require the study of meth use in Montana to be completed by September of 2018. Lawmakers in the House Human Services Committee didn’t vote on the resolution after it was introduced Wednesday.

Corin Cates-Carney manages MTPR’s daily and long-term news projects. After spending more than five years living and reporting across Western and Central Montana, he became news director in early 2020.
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