The Des Moines Register, Tuesday, March 31, 1998, Page 6M

State, federal officials disclose
plans for combating meth use

Federal prosecutors announce a new hot line for information, help and referrals on methamphetamine use:
(888) 664-4673.


    Two initiatives to fight methamphetamine in Iowa were unveiled Monday.
    In the Legislature, House Republicans proposed stiffer prison sentences, a reward fund for informants, more help for law enforcement and denial of college student loans or other government aid for convicted users and dealers.
    Leaders of the House Republican majority said their plan would disrupt the manufacture and distribution of meth in Iowa, which they said has reached epidemic proportions.
    "Hardly a day goes by that we don't see a serious crime due to meth," said Rep. Jeffrey Lamberti, an Ankeny Republican who heads the House Judiciary Committee.
    Meanwhile, U.S. attorneys in Iowa launched a campaign aimed at preventing teen-agers from using the highly addictive drug, which is a powerful central nervous system stimulant.
    Hard-hitting, macabre posters and public service announcements on the medical dangers of meth are being distributed throughout South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska - the Midwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.
    "We are trying to market an effort in saying to youth, 'We think you need this information about the dangers of methamphetamine,'" Don Nickerson, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, said Monday at a news conference at Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines.
    The television announcements feature fast-moving scenes and hip music.   "So what's it cost?" a teen asks a dealer.  After pictures flash across the TV screen showing the social and medical costs - including a trip to a hospital - the dealer replies, "What's it cost?  Forty bucks."
    A radio ad features a fashion show for "tweakers," or meth users: a shirt that highlights an addict's pasty skin; a black belt for a user shedding pounds and wasting away; cotton pajamas that soak up sweat and are "perfect for the times you're going to be up all night," the announcer says.
    House Republicans said their anti-meth proposals can be done within existing budgets.  They denied they were playing catch-up to members of the House Democratic minority, who recently announced a $4 million plan to fight meth.  GOP leaders said cracking down on use of the drug has been one of their priorities.
    Elements of their plan include:

Reporter Jonathan Roos can be
reached at
or (515) 284-8443.

Reporter Shirley Salemy can be
reached at
or (515) 284-8131

The Des Moines Register
Tuesday, March 31, 1998, Page 6M