[r63] Addressing Indiana's meth problem

Posted by: Zach Weismiller  | Friday, June 27, 2014

For the past several years, local law enforcement and state officials have been battling Indiana’s growing meth crisis. Unfortunately, according to statistics from the Department of Justice, Indiana led the nation last year in the number of meth lab seizures. One of the ways we sought to reduce the number of meth related incidents was by restricting the sales of medicine containing pseudoephedrine; a necessary component of meth. Despite our efforts, many Indiana communities are still facing a meth problem today.

While a majority of meth is imported from Mexico, the drug can also be manufactured in illegal, hidden laboratories, like in a home or car, around the state. Since the chemicals used to make meth are dangerous, potentially explosive, this poses a threat to individuals living around or in these homes as well as anyone located nearby a mobile meth lab. 

During the 2013 session, I supported legislation that requires auto dealers to disclose if a vehicle has been involved in a meth related incident within the last two years. This disclosure must be done in writing before the sale of the vehicle. Furthermore, in the event that they fail to disclose this information, the buyer must be reimbursed and is allowed to pursue civil damages.

This was necessary because meth manufacturers were increasingly using vehicles as laboratories in order to evade law enforcement. Even after they were done using the vehicle as a meth lab, this meant that toxins could still be left in the vehicle. This legislation was an effort to make sure these potentially toxic vehicles aren’t sold unknowingly to a new owner, thus avoiding any potential health implications that may exist. 

Despite this small victory in the large battle against meth, we went into the legislative session this year knowing that more work needed to be done. That is why I supported a new law that provides information to homebuyers on whether or not a home has been exposed to meth. After July 1, a home that has had a connection with meth must have that information disclosed within the buyer’s agreement or realtor’s statement, clearly describing if the property was properly decontaminated.

The new law also requires a person who manufactures methamphetamine on someone else’s property to pay restitution to the owner for the damages, which includes lost rents and the cost of decontamination. This provision protects Hoosier homeowners and works to ensure that no one will be harmed by these potentially dangerous chemicals. In addition, it holds the person responsible for the manufacturing of methamphetamine. 

This law was a direct result of locals who asked their state representatives for help in dealing with the damaging effects of meth use and manufacturing. The fact there were more than 1,500 methamphetamine labs discovered in Indiana in 2013 is simply unacceptable. Every Hoosier deserves the peace of mind knowing that their home or prospective home was not used in the production of this deadly drug. 

These new laws work to create safer and stronger communities as well as increase transparency for Hoosier families. Although our efforts were effective, I know they do not fully address the meth epidemic. As we continue to fight this problem and work towards a solution, I hope that you will get involved in the fight as well. It is important that the public stay educated on this issue because if we truly want to put an end to this problem, it is going to take a statewide, collaborative effort.