The 2007 legislative session, in cooperation with the working group, passed a bill that restricted the sale of pharmaceuticals containing precursor materials used in the manufacture of methamphetamine and other controlled substances. The law changed how many over-the-counter drugs, including pseudoephedrine, are sold and added criminal penalties for certain activities related to the manufacture of meth. The law also gave local law enforcement more authority to go after meth manufacturers and brought the state up to standard with laws passed by the federal government.
The success of the working group in raising public awareness and helping to wipe out meth labs in the state encouraged the Office of the Attorney General to submit Assembly Bill 61 during the last legislative session, which created a permanent entity to study issues relating to, not only methamphetamine, but all substance abuse in Nevada. The Substance Abuse Working Group met for the first time in November and again in late March.
Nevada is seeing an alarming rise in the abuse of prescription drugs. A recent National Roadside survey showed more than 16 percent of weekend, nighttime drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription or over-the-counter medication. More than 11 percent tested positive for illicit drugs — five times as many as were under the influence of alcohol.
Abuse of prescription drugs has become a big problem — especially among teens and young adults — and serves as a gateway drug for heroin and cocaine. Every day, some 2,500 youth (age 12-17) abuse an opioid for the first time.
To help keep these drugs out of the hands of our young people, law enforcement and other community agencies in our state have sponsored “prescription drug round-ups” where citizens can go to a collection point to get rid of their unwanted or unused prescription drugs.
The next prescription drug roundup will be held in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take Back event on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Nevada. For a complete list of collection sites near you, visit www.dea.gov.
Substance abuse devastates our communities economically, criminally and personally. It has many tentacles that include keeping up with the types of drugs, stopping the import and the networks of traffickers and assuring the proper programs are in place to help the addicted and their families. We can only combat this dilemma in a multi-pronged way — with awareness, education, policy, legislation, law enforcement and health and human services.
AB 61, which created the Substance Abuse Working Group with representatives from law enforcement, social services, community services and the legislature, is uniting community stakeholders to help combat substance abuse. This group and its members will continue to fight this scourge that destroys lives, families and communities.
Catherine Cortez Masto is the Nevada Attorney General. Mark Jackson is the Douglas County District Attorney.