Governor’s meth task force finishing up its proposals | NevadaAppeal.com

Governor’s meth task force finishing up its proposals

The proposals that will be sent to the governor to deal with the meth crisis will cost money, and no one is yet talking about how much or where the cash will come from.

“I haven’t put pencil to paper on it at all yet,” said Health and Human Resources Director Mike Willden.

The governor’s methamphetamine task force hopes to send a final report and recommendations to Gov. Jim Gibbons after its meeting Thursday. Willden said he will have until Sept. 1, when the budget is submitted, to lay out exactly what any programs the governor supports will cost.

Use prevention is likely to be a key aspect of the report.

Willden said he came to the task force thinking that with heavy representation by law enforcement and prosecutors, the focus would be on those issues.

“But almost to a ‘T,’ everybody recognizes that prevention is one of the key things that’s got to happen, that we’re not going to get ahead of this unless we aggressively promote prevention and treatment,” he said.

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Nevada’s first lady Dawn Gibbons, also a member of the task force, said prevention is the key: “That’s the cheapest way to fight it, don’t start in the first place.”

But she said treatment, which she said is “very expensive,” is vital to help those already addicted become free of drugs.

“And we’re woefully behind on treatment and beds,” she said, adding it takes addicts as long as 18 months to kick meth addiction. “We’re in the fight of our life, really.”

Phil Galeoto, director of public safety for the state, said the same is true of any programs he would handle. But he said for recommendations such as an expanded drug dog program, there are already well-developed programs upon which he can draw.

Both men said the task force helped them in understanding the meth crisis from the other’s point of view.

“In law enforcement, we tend to have a, well, black-and-white perspective,” said Galeoto. “I learned a tremendous amount about prevention and treatment. This has been extremely useful.”

Gov. Gibbons directed the task force to prepare recommendations on all phases of the problem for him to sort through and deliver to the 2009 Legislature.

Dawn Gibbons said the report will do just that.

“We’ve done a good job of coming up with good recommendations for the governor and Legislature,” she said.

One of the things she said happened during the process is the realization that meth isn’t the only problem. She said heroin and other drugs also are out there and need to be dealt with.

“We needed to slightly change our direction,” she said.

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