HELENA – Montana state senators Diane Sands, D-Missoula, and Eric Moore, R-Miles City, announced at a press conference Wednesday plans for an action meeting to discuss the influx of dangerous drugs in Montana, and to explore possible legislative solutions. The action meeting will be held Saturday, Feb. 18 at the Montana Capitol.
“Methamphetamine and other illegal drugs are clouding the Big Sky state and it’s imperative we redouble our efforts to address the problem,” said Senator Moore. “The strain this scourge has put on state resources diverts funding from many other necessary state programs. Corrections, Office of Public Defender, Child Protective Services and the judicial branch are swamped with drug related cases. But the financial cost pales in comparison to the destruction of Montana families, children, and lives.”
According to a Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services report released last April, the number of kids in foster care increased from 1,746 in 2011 to 3,126 as of March 2016. In 2010, there were 230 children in foster care due to meth use by parents. As of April 2016, 1,049 children are in foster care due to meth use by the parents.
“The cost that meth and other dangerous drugs has on our state is absolutely staggering and something needs to be done,” said Senator Sands. “Families are torn apart and lives are destroyed because of substance abuse, and it’s our moral obligation as policymakers to address this problem.”
Attorney General Tim Fox will send representatives from the Montana Department of Justice to share the Department’s perspective on the growing drug epidemic in Montana.
“Addressing the problem of dangerous drugs and substance abuse in Montana is not a partisan issue,” said Attorney General Fox. “I applaud Senator Moore and Senator Sands for crossing the aisle and being proactive by bringing people together to tackle this problem head on.”
Senators Moore and Sands have invited all interested legislators to hear testimony from stakeholders on this crisis on Saturday, February 18 after both houses have concluded their floor session. Representatives from the Departments of Justice, Child Protective Services, Education, Corrections, Judiciary, County Attorneys, Tribal Governments, and Federal law enforcement will explain trends and costs and what they see as short and long-term measures needed to coordinate state resources to combat this problem.
This bipartisan meeting is called to address a bipartisan problem. It is the goal of Senators Moore and Sands that this gathering be focused on solutions and inter-departmental coordination as Montanans work together to rid this poison from our state.