Daines introduces bill to combat meth use in state

U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., introduced bipartisan legislation, the Mitigating the Methamphetamine Epidemic and Promoting Tribal Health Act, or the Mitigating METH Act, to combat methamphetamine use across Montana and strengthen Indian tribes’ ability to fight this epidemic.

In the 21st Century Cures Act, enacted in 2016, Congress authorized $1 billion in funding over two years to address the opioid epidemic. The legislation would make efforts to combat methamphetamine use, alongside opioid abuse, eligible for funding under the 21st Century Cures Act.  

Methamphetamine Crisis in Montana:

Montana saw a 427 percent increase in methamphetamine violations from 2010-2015.

54 percent of all criminal investigations in Montana involve meth.

46 percent of all substances indicated in children’s placements in the foster care system in Montana involve meth, a higher rate than any other drug. 

There are 11 drug task forces in Montana, all reporting methamphetamine as the primary drug encountered.

“The methamphetamine and opioid epidemics have claimed many lives in Indian Country and have torn at the fabric of our families and communities. While we experience disproportionate risk from the opioid crisis, Tribes have been prevented from accessing resources available to other populations. The National Indian Health Board applauds Senator Daines for introducing this important legislation which will open up funding pathways to Tribes to address the crisis and save lives.” — Stacy A. Bohlen, executive director of the National Indian Health Board

 “The Fort Belknap Indian Community Council wishes to express our gratitude to Sen. Daines for his continued recognition of the government-to-government relationship between Indian tribes and the federal government as demonstrated with his proposed amendment to the 2l’t Century Cures Act to include Indian tribes on the same basis as states and to expand the named drugs to include methamphetamine.” — Resolution of Support from Fort Belknap Indian Community Council.  Read full resolution HERE.

“I am writing to express my support for the draft legislation sponsored by Sen.Daines to add Indian tribes to the Cures Act for federal grants to respond to the opioid crisis.  I have extensive experience treating addiction in Montana, and I have observed that opioid addiction is a serious problem on Indian reservations, where multiple barriers (such as unemployment, rural geography, and lack of local medication assisted treatment for opioid addiction) make providing services on the reservations especially difficult.” -— Robert C. Sherrick, MD, FASAM, Chief Medical Officer of Community Medical Services in Kalispell.

The Mitigating METH Act would also make tribes, like states, eligible to be direct grantees of this funding, better reflecting the government-to-government relationship between Indian tribes and the United States.