The growing methamphetamine problem in the Upper Peninsula took center stage on Wednesday at a joint government meeting in Escanaba.
Officials from Escanaba and Gladstone and the Hannahville Indian Community met to discuss possible solutions to methamphetamine manufacture and use in the U.P. According to police statistics, meth labs have grown steadily from 5 in 2009 to 21 known meth labs this year alone.
Sometimes the drugs are used by those making the meth, and sometimes the drugs are sold. One question that arose was how are people getting money to buy meth.
"They're stealing it from you," said Detective Sgt. Ron Koski of UPSET. "They're ripping it off from Walmart. They're going into Walmart and they're grabbing stuff and then they're going in to exchange it and getting cash for it. Walmart is starting to smarten up. They're going to give a gift card."
According to police, one possible solution to cut down on the meth problem is to make Sudafed, one of the vital ingredients, a prescription medication. It is currently available over-the-counter.