I have been active and vocal in raising awareness about drug abuse in our State and Nation and the perils it poses to our families, communities, and economy. I have organized and participated in state and national forums and advocated a multi-prong strategy that includes both strengthening law enforcement and substance abuse education and treatment.
Of particular concern is methamphetamine, the most widely abused, domestically produced synthetic drug in the United States, and its illicit production at clandestine labs in our State and Nation.
As a Member of Congress, I am committed to doing all that I can at the Federal level to combat the illicit manufacturing and illegal trafficking of methamphethamine.
I have consistently supported Federal funding to assist state and local law enforcement officials in conducting drug investigations and shutting down toxic methamphetamine labs.
I repeatedly have urged the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy to add additional southern West Virginia counties to the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), steering additional Federal funding to West Virginia law enforcement officials to combat methamphetamine abuse and trafficking in our region.
In fact, knowing its importance to our law enforcement personnel, I helped to lead the effort in the House of Representatives to restore funding for the HIDTA program, fighting to prevent tens of millions of dollars of proposed cuts.
I also have supported legislation to increase Federal regulation of chemicals that are used to produce methamphetamine and sought to enhance criminal penalties for trafficking in the drug. I have been a consistent advocate of including tamper-resistant safeguards in the production of pharmaceuticals with the potential for abuse, so that over-the-counter cold medications, for example, cannot be used to produce methamphetamine.
I am confident that all of these steps can have a positive impact. But knowing the widespread nature of the problem before us, it is the involvement of West Virginians and the many others who have been personally affected by substance abuse and addiction that will help turn the tide on drug abuse within our communities.
Parents and teachers talking with their kids and students about the dangers of drug abuse, and local community leaders organizing and coordinating resources and assistance from the Federal and State governments will lead to finding new solutions and making progress.
I will continue to work closely with Federal agencies, as well as representatives of our law enforcement and community service organizations, to talk about our State’s efforts to address the public health and safety challenges of drug abuse and to find ways to help our communities in fighting such epidemics.
And a big part of my effort will be pushing back against efforts in the Congress to cut Federal grant programs that assist our State and local law enforcement and provide critical finding for treatment and recovery programs.
If we are to continue to build healthier and safer communities and develop an educated and skilled workforce needed to bring new jobs and opportunities to West Virginia, we need to address the scourge of drug abuse and continue to invest in our young people so they can take advantage of the opportunities they deserve.
(Editor’s note: U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) represents West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District.)