Funding is needed to tackle Haywood's drug problems

Jan 29, 2013

While prescription pill abuse is at an all-time high, methamphetamines are still a drug of choice for many in the state.

Recent statistics show that an alarming and record breaking 460 meth labs were found in North Carolina last year. That number will only continue to grow if a solution is not found.

Drug use is rampant in Haywood County. Just ask Paulette Camp, owner of Eagle’s Nest Grocery in Hazelwood, who says she sees drug addicts and drug transactions at her story daily. She recently said, “If you own a business in Haywood County that has a parking lot, you’ve got a drug problem.”

Former meth addict and dealer Karen Gaskill Baker says finding drugs is too easy. Many stuck in the cycle of addiction don't make it out alive. Her 22-year-old son, who recently underwent heart surgery, was almost a casualty.

Although enacting laws to restrict the sale of the cold medicine used to make meth have all but stopped large quantity meth labs, it didn't slow the production. Now, meth cookers have found an easier, quicker way to make the drug using what's called the “shake and bake” method. This means smaller quantities are produced, the the end product is just as deadly.

Criminals can always find a loophole in the law, which is why placing more restrictions, such as requiring a prescription for Sudaphedrine, might not be the answer. Instead, funneling more resources toward the problem could make all the difference.

If real progress is to be made, we need more law enforcement officers and detectives, not only at the local level, but the state level as well.

The N.C. Department of Justice is requesting about $600,000 in state funding this year to pay for a nine-person unit to combat meth and to allow for speedy turnaround time on meth analysis and testing results.

Considering the drug problems that are rampant in Haywood County, it is time to beef up enforcement efforts, perhaps by forming a specialized team to specifically tackle the issue.

The community needs be become involved as well. There are ongoing drug awareness events put on by all law enforcement agencies in the county that are well-worth attending. More than anything, the community needs to be the eyes and ears for law enforcement by reporting any suspected drug activity.

With prescription drug abuse at epidemic proportions in Haywood County, we must find a way to end this scourge on our county. It is one that not only endangers our present, but impacts our future, as well.

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