APRIL 7, 2004  


NASHVILLE Governor Phil Bredesen today signed an executive order establishing the Governors Task Force on Methaphetamine Abuse to develop a comprehensive strategy for addressing the manufacture, trafficking and abuse of the drug.

The task force is charged with presenting findings and recommendations on a broad strategy to the Governor by September 1. The panel will consist of 20 representatives from a range of fields, including law enforcement, health care, education and human services, as well as 12 ex-officio members who will provide general advice and counsel to the core group.

The first meeting is scheduled for April 27 in Nashville. Subsequent meetings will be held in communities across Middle and East Tennessee the heart of meth territory in Tennessee.

The meth scourge represents a clear and present danger to the health and well being of our state, Bredesen said, in signing the 18th executive order of his administration. This is a task force that wont be anchored in Nashville, but will go into ground zero of the problem the Cumberland Plateau, the Sequatchie Valley and wherever else meth is destroying lives and communities.

Ken Givens, commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, will serve as the task force chairman. Given, a former state representative from Hawkins County, has a firm understanding of the predominantly rural social and health issues associated with meth abuse. Givens also is a longtime advocate for childrens health.

Methamphetamine, a powerfully addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system, is produced in clandestine laboratories across Tennessee with relatively inexpensive over-the-counter ingredients. The drug has been on the rise in recent years. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration estimates that Tennessee now accounts for 75% of meth lab seizures in the Southeast.

Meth abuse also is disproportionately affecting children. Between January 2002 and July 2003, more than 700 children were placed in state custody as a result of meth allegations. Based on the rapid increase in cases, the Tennessee Department of Childrens Services expects that number will nearly double during the next year.

Bredesen cautioned Tennessees meth problem wont be solved overnight. Its taken a generation to create this problem. But as a state, we have an obligation to act now.

He added: Some people say weve already lost a generation to meth. I dont intend to lose another one. For more information on meth in Tennessee, visit the DEAs web site at