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Gov. Gregoire addresses regional meth summit

For Immediate Release: September 29, 2008

TACOMA – Gov. Chris Gregoire today gave the opening remarks at the Regional Meth Summit and highlighted the state’s progress in attacking meth labs and addiction.

“I am very pleased at how amazingly far we’ve come since I took office four years ago,” Gregoire said. “The number of meth labs detected in Washington has fallen by 92 percent in the past four years. The significant decline in the number of meth labs in Washington is a strong testament to the dedication of law enforcement agencies and community groups. ”

In 2006, Gregoire signed into law a comprehensive anti-meth bill that set aside $1.6 million to help fight meth addiction and the adverse effects meth has on families and communities. The bill also created three new regional task forces — one each in Southwest, Southeast and Northwest Washington — to prevent meth trafficking. In 2004, law enforcement officers discovered 1,341 meth labs. Last year, that number dropped to 237.

Gregoire credited these advances to strong partnerships with the law enforcement community. She also applauded law enforcement and social services agencies from other states for attending the conference, adding “the terrible epidemic of methamphetamine does not stop at the state line.”

“I can say we’re successful here in Washington because we have done something that is unrivaled in this country,” Gregoire said. “We have traded personal agendas and turf battles for strong partnerships. And now we are pursuing a multi-faceted strategy of prevention, treatment and law enforcement. We have one simple goal — to stop people from swallowing, smoking and shooting meth.”

Gregoire applauded the state’s Meth Action Teams, which are made up largely of volunteers and operating in every Washington county. Gregoire also said the state is doing a much better job of rescuing and caring for the youngest victims of meth addiction.

“Too often when we raid meth labs, we find an even greater tragedy along with all of the toxic chemicals and hopelessly addicted adults,” Gregoire said. “We find little children. Many of them are still in diapers. These innocent bystanders are hungry, frightened and covered in filth. Such cases are heartbreaking.”

Gregoire joined U.S. Sen. Patty Murray to help lead the “Parade of Transformation,” a series of testimonials from family members, law enforcement officers and community groups affected by meth addiction.

The two-day summit, hosted by the Safe Streets Campaign, brings together 250 people from law enforcement, county Meth Action Teams, Child Protective Services and the health services. Social services providers from Washington, California, Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii, Montana and Idaho were also in attendance.