Methamphetamine Response Act of 2021

Floor Speech

Date: Feb. 28, 2022
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (S. 854) to designate methamphetamine as an emerging threat, and for other purposes.

The Clerk read the title of the bill.

The text of the bill is as follows: S. 854

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the ``Methamphetamine Response Act of 2021''. SEC. 2. DECLARATION OF EMERGING THREAT.

(a) In General.--Congress declares methamphetamine an emerging drug threat, as defined in section 702 of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 1998 (21 U.S.C. 1701), in the United States.

(b) Required Emerging Threat Response Plan.--Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy shall establish and implement an Emerging Threat Response Plan that is specific to methamphetamine in accordance with section 709(d) of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 1998 (21 U.S.C. 1708(d)).


Mr. PALLONE. 854.



Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of S. 854, the Methamphetamine Response Act of 2021.

Today, our Nation continues to face a devastating epidemic of substance use and overdose deaths, an epidemic that has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, we have surpassed the tragic milestone of 100,000 drug overdose deaths in a 1- year period.

Although opioids account for a significant number of overdose deaths, methamphetamine overdoses have been rising at alarming rates in recent years. Recent data from the National Institutes of Health found that methamphetamine overdose deaths nearly tripled from 2015 to 2019.

Further, the Drug Enforcement Administration reports that methamphetamine continues to be readily available throughout the United States. In 2019, the DEA seized over 53,000 kilograms of methamphetamine. That was a 55 percent increase over 2018. Recent data also suggests that seizures of methamphetamine have increased during the pandemic. The threat of this drug is compounded by the common mixing, or cutting, of drugs, such as cocaine, with methamphetamine.

To address the widespread availability and the shocking increases in methamphetamine-involved overdose deaths, this legislation would designate methamphetamine as an emerging drug threat.

By making this designation, Mr. Speaker, S. 854 would require the Office of National Drug Control Policy to implement a methamphetamine response plan. As part of this plan, ONDCP and partner agencies would develop a comprehensive assessment of the emerging drug threat, establish quantifiable goals to combat the threat, implement performance measures, and identify the funding levels needed to implement the plan.

The House companion of this bill was considered and passed by the Energy and Commerce Committee with bipartisan support in July of last year. I commend the sponsors of the House companion, Representatives Peters and Curtis, for their leadership.

This legislation is another step forward in our ongoing efforts to end the substance use epidemic that is devastating our families and communities.

Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support S. 854, and I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I urge support for this bill, which is bipartisan, so we can send it to the President. I yield back the balance of my time.

Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of S. 854, the ``Methamphetamine Response Act of 2021'' which designates methamphetamine as an emerging drug threat (a new and growing trend in the use of an illicit drug or class of drug).

It also directs the Office of National Drug Control Policy to implement a methamphetamine response plan.

Methamphetamines are a highly addictive substance that can cause considerable health adversities which can sometimes result in death.

Meth not only changes how the brain works, but also speeds up the body's systems to dangerous, sometimes lethal, levels--increasing blood pressure and heart and respiratory rates.

People who repeatedly use meth may also experience anxiety, paranoia, aggression, hallucinations, and mood disturbances.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the misuse of methamphetamine remains an extremely serious problem in the United States.

In some areas of the country, it poses an even greater threat than opioids, and it is the drug that most contributes to violent crime.

According to data from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), over 14.7 million people (5.4 percent of the population) have tried methamphetamine at least once.

NSDUH also reports that almost 1.6 million people used methamphetamine in the year leading up to the survey, and it remains one of the most commonly misused stimulant drugs in the world.

According to a report commissioned by the CDC in 2018, the age- adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths involving methamphetamine in the United States more than tripled from 0.6 per 100,000 population in 2011 to 2.1 in 2016.

The rate increased on average by an astounding 29 percent per year.

Jane Carlisle Maxwell from the University of Texas found in 2021 that methamphetamine still outnumbers other drugs in the four drug reporting systems, and it continues to increase, a pattern consistent with that seen in other states.

Over the years, the proportion of methamphetamine items seized has changed.

In 2005, methamphetamine represented 21 percent of all items identified by DEA laboratories; in 2019, methamphetamine comprised 50 percent of all the items examined.

Methamphetamine admissions to treatment programs increased from 3 percent of all admissions in 1995 to 11 percent in 2007, dropped to 8 percent in 2009, and then rose to 22 percent of admissions in 2020.

The race-ethnic composition has changed in terms of Hispanic representation.

In 1995, 91 percent were White, 2 percent were Black, and 5 percent were Hispanic. Of the 2020 admissions, 90 percent were White, 7 percent were Black, and 18 percent were Hispanic.

Forty-one percent of the admissions were ages 26-35.

In 1994, 59 percent of the clients were male, as compared to 45 percent male in 2020.

Based on the results of Maxwell's previous research, females use methamphetamine for energy, to lose weight, and to counter depression.

There is a significant need to consider gender issues in methamphetamine treatment, which could certainly be taken into account by the Office of National Drug Control Policy in its response plan.

Additionally, the Office of National Drug Control Policy should make treatment for methamphetamine addictions the center of its response plan.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has found that the most effective treatments for methamphetamine addiction at this point are behavioral therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral and contingency management interventions.

For example, the Matrix Model--a 16-week comprehensive behavioral treatment approach that combines behavioral therapy, family education, individual counseling, 12-step support, drug testing, and encouragement for non-drug-related activities--has been shown to be effective in reducing methamphetamine misuse.

Contingency management interventions, which provide tangible incentives in exchange for engaging in treatment and maintaining abstinence from methamphetamines, have also been shown to be effective.

Motivational Incentives for Enhancing Drug Abuse Recovery (MIEDAR), an incentive-based method for promoting cocaine and methamphetamine abstinence, has demonstrated efficacy among methamphetamine misusers through NIDA's National Drug Abuse Clinical Trials Network.

It is, therefore, clear and obvious that treatment should be the center of ONDC's response plan, not incarceration.

Incarcerating those addicted to drugs has clearly not worked considering methamphetamine users continue to use throughout our country despite the present criminal penalties.

This bill is of the utmost importance to me considering the major threat methamphetamines pose in Houston.

The DEA via Operation Crystal Shield, an operation to ramp up enforcement to block the further distribution of methamphetamines into America's neighborhoods, has designated the city of Houston one of eight major transportation hubs for methamphetamines.

The flow of methamphetamines in Houston is significant, with major busts by authorities not being out of the ordinary.

Just two weeks ago, Click2Houston reported an umpire was arrested after authorities say he was in possession of drugs while working around children at a youth baseball tournament in the Houston area this week.

When authorities arrived at the scene, deputies say they found 2.7 grams of crystal meth inside the umpire's vehicle.

Additionally, in May 2021, authorities seized 1,789 pounds of methamphetamines in the north Houston area, as well as large quantities of other narcotics.

According to authorities, the street value of the seizure was approximately $3.4 million.

The city of Houston is under attack, and the belligerent parties are drug traffickers and their henchmen.

They alone are ruining the lives of countless Americans, but this bill creates a comprehensive response to ensure that no more lives are lost.

It is for that reason, Mr Speaker, that I am urging my colleagues to support the Methamphetamine Response Act of 2021.