PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – With a reported increase in methamphetamine distribution and overdoses around the country, the Drug Enforcement Administration has announced an initiative to target major meth trafficking networks.
Operation Crystal Shield will pour federal resources into choking off distribution of meth in eight major cities, including Los Angeles, Phoenix and El Paso.
The federal crackdown does not address the local demand for meth in the Portland area, which is still very high.
"Some people use methamphetamines to stay up at night because it's not safe," said Laura Carlson, Program Supervisor at Club Hope, a drop-in recovery center in Northeast Portland. "If you're out on the street, it's not safe to go to sleep at night. People die. People get killed. People get assaulted."
Carlson said people ready to take a step toward treatment and recovery are regularly frustrated by long waiting lists, and weeks-long delays.
Last week, organizers launched an initiative petition that would expand access to treatment for Oregonians, IP-44.
The proposed initiative would mandate addiction recovery centers in communities around the state, potentially making drug treatment more widely available.
"We have to really begin to shift the way we think about addiction. And we have to stop being naive that we can think that we can continue to incarcerate ourselves out of this issue," said Mona Knudson, a former addict who now serves as Executive Director of Bridges to Change, an organization that links people struggling with addiction to treatment and housing.
Organizers behind IP-44 are currently gathering signatures.
They need just over 112,000 signatures to get the measure on the November ballot.
Organizers said they have already collected more than 150,000 signatures and continue their efforts to collect more.
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