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County passes meth awareness plan


With Ashtabula County ranking among the top five counties in Ohio last year for the discovery of methamphetamine labs...

Staff Writer

JEFFERSON — With Ashtabula County ranking among the top five counties in Ohio last year for the discovery of methamphetamine labs, county commissioners have supported a task force’s draft of a community awareness plan.
Approved Thursday, the plan describes the efforts law enforcement must take to educate street officers and citizens about the illegal substance, which has become popular because some of the ingredients for its production are widely available over the counter. According to the plan, Ohio has lagged behind in developing a response to the spread of meth, despite Gov. Bob Taft’s sponsorship last year of a methamphetamine summit.

“This drug is now ‘our nightmare,’ an epidemic that is spreading as fast as a virus and we cannot afford to wait on the federal or state government to take a lead role and provide guidance,” states the introduction of the plan, which was developed by the Ashtabula County sheriff’s office and the Trumbull-Ashtabula-Geauga (TAG) Law Enforcement Task Force.

“To avoid an all-out crisis situation, Ashtabula County must create a plan with groups and agencies that have a significant role, interest and concern in addressing methamphetamine, including education, treatment, prevention, enforcement, justice, farming, environmental (concerns), retail and the media.”

Ashtabula County Sheriff William R. Johnson said TAG already has conducted education sessions for some townships and community groups, trying to show residents what they should look for and how they can contact the proper authorities.
A highly toxic, strong stimulant for the central nervous system, meth can be smoked, injected or taken orally. Although it may take different forms, it typically is white, odorless and bitter-tasting. Its usage will increase one’s heart rate, blood pressure, and rate of breathing and may be accompanied by violent behavior.

“Those who make meth (their) drug of choice experience at least a 12-hour high, but a lifetime of addiction,” the plan states.

Johnson said meth might have overtaken cocaine and marijuana as the substance most often associated with the drug trade in Ashtabula County. More than 20 meth labs have been discovered in the county and disabled since January 2003.

“I would love to be able to sit here and tell you we’re going to eliminate the drug trade in Ashtabula County, but that would be far-fetched,” the sheriff said.
However, Johnson said authorities have succeeded at decreasing the amount of labs, and his officers are receiving training that will better prepare them for hazardous situations involving meth production.

“We made sure that the people that are doing it know what they’re doing and have the proper equipment,” Johnson said.
Community groups interested in scheduling a time for TAG officers to give a presentation may contact the task force at     (440) 632-9799.


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