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Apr 25, 2004 3:46 pm US/Eastern
(1010 WINS) (NEW YORK) Sen. Charles Schumer said Sunday that methamphetamine use is growing in New York and measures must be taken to stop it before it becomes an epidemic akin to crack cocaine.
"Methamphetamine use is beginning to skyrocket in New York and we need a plan to nip this in the bud," Schumer said. "Crystal meth could be the crack of the 21st century if we don't do something to stop it, and do something soon to stop it."
The drug, also called meth, crystal meth, crank and tina, can be manufactured cheaply and has long been a problem in rural areas and on the West Coast. Schumer said it has been making inroads in New York in the last few years.
In 1999, just two meth labs were reported in New York State, Schumer said. That number increased to eight in 2000, 19 in 2001, 45 in 2002 and 73 in 2003.
Schumer, D-N.Y., proposed three measures to combat the spread of the drug.
- He said he would introduce legislation to make the penalties for selling meth the same as those in place for selling crack.
- Schumer said he would co-sponsor a bill to restrict the sales of certain cold medicine pills that can be used to make meth.
- He also said he is working with public health officials from New York City and Nassau and Suffolk counties to seek federal funds for prevention and treatment of meth abuse.
Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge for New York City Anthony Placido, who joined Schumer at a news conference at the DEA's Chelsea office, said meth is a growing problem nationwide.
He said the number of emergency room visits related to meth rose 60 percent from 10,400 in '99 to almost 18,000 in 2002, the latest year for which data are available.