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Tripp Street bust brings it home

Editorial

The methamphetamine epidemic is not confined to rural areas

Any doubts that the methamphetamine scourge facing this community is real should have been dispelled by the discovery of a meth lab in a house on Tripp Street Tuesday.

The most chilling detail in this latest case was that police were alerted when a neighbor spotted a 3-year-old girl wandering the streets unattended. When officers inspected the house, the toddler's 4-year-old brother told them he knew where the bad stuff was and led them to a shed full of the caustic chemicals used to produce the drug.

When community and law enforcement officials say methamphetamine threatens everyone's safety, this is what they mean.

Meth labs are not only found in travel trailers parked in the woods, miles from town. This one was in a residential neighborhood in the heart of Medford.

Meth does not damage only those who use it. After Tuesday's discovery, two very small children are in protective custody and a house is uninhabitable, probably for some time to come.

The adults in this case are presumably old enough to take care of themselves. The two children are not.

— The only thing missing from this case is the even more common side effect of methamphetamine: the property crimes its users commit to feed their addictions. The cook in this case apparently chose to commit the crime of manufacturing the drug instead of other crimes, but meth users frequently commit burglary, robbery and theft to support their habits, and assault when under the influence.

Gov. Ted Kulongoski has made the battle against this insidious drug a top priority of his administration, and legislators also support sweeping action to address the problem.

Oregonians need to support these efforts. Methamphetamine abuse and trafficking makes every Oregonian less safe, and costs us all money in the long run, not to mention the human suffering of those in the grip of addiction, and those most innocent of victims, their children.