Tuesday, February 24, 2004

A Matter of Protocol

One of the most harmful effects of the War on Some Drugs has been the proliferation of home-based methamphetamine labs that arose to fill the demand when our government's interdiction/eradication campaign caused the price of cocaine to rise on account of the increased costs of producing and delivering it. Meth is relatively easy and cheap to make and there are now thousands of small time producers across the country. Many of these labs are housed in family homes exposing children to the dangerous conditions of its processing.

More than 2,000 children were found living in homes in the US with methamphetamine labs in 2002. Chemicals used in meth labs reportedly can affect respiratory and immune systems and can cause heart problems, brain damage, developmental difficulties and cancer.

In response to the situation, the state of Nebraska announced a set of guidelines for police, social workers and doctors, believed to be the most comprehensive set of protocols in the nation for responding to meth-exposed children.

Dr. Gregg Wright of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Center for Children, Families and the Law said police will have a form to fill out identifying what chemicals children may have been exposed to. Another form will aid police and social workers in assembling a medical history for the child. A third form will guide physicians in what to look for while examining exposed children. And a fourth will guide foster parents in caring for the child.

Nancy Martinez, state coordinator of a federal drug enforcement program, said the new protocols already have been used in four recent methamphetamine cases involving 12 children in the Omaha area.

We applaud Nebraska's efforts to protect innocent kids, however we would like to point out once again, that these meth labs would not exist if the black market for drugs were eliminated through legalization and regulation. The best way to protect these children would be to end this futile war.


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