Committee approves $14 million for anti-meth, other drug programs | NevadaAppeal.com

Committee approves $14 million for anti-meth, other drug programs

A legislative committee Thursday approved budgets for anti-methamphetamine and other drug programs totaling $14 million.

That includes $3 million for a pilot program to treat those who suffer both from drug addiction and mental health problems.

“If there’s one major gap in our system, this is it,” Mental Health Administrator Carlos Brandenburg told the joint Ways and Means/Senate Finance subcommittee. “What we’re trying to do with this program is develop an integrated treatment program.”

Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, who works with the Washoe County drug court, said she agrees with that assessment: “In the drug court, we very seldom see people with only one issue.”

The plan proposed in Gov. Jim Gibbons’ recommended budget also replaces a total of $5.3 million in federal funds which are no longer available with state general fund money. That money will be used as grants to community coalitions which provide treatment for drug addiction.

A total of $3.8 million was appropriated to reduce waiting lists for drug treatment programs around the state. That should provide enough money to serve an additional 567 patients the first year and 850 the second year of the biennium.

The final piece approved Thursday was the transfer of $1 million a year from the Health and Human Resources Director’s office to Brandenburg’s office to support drug abuse education programs.

The anti-drug programs are all being transferred to the Division of Mental Health and Disabled Services in this proposed budget.

The anti-methamphetamine programs were listed by Gibbons as one of his top priorities this biennium. He called for a total of $17.1 million in spending. The budgets approved Thursday account for all but about $3 million, which is in the Public Safety Department’s budget to support strike teams to hunt down meth labs and dealers.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.