Last week I toured two methamphetamine manufacturing sites in Washington state. Hanging a cloud of despair over their communities, the environment, and their victims, sites like those breed a vicious poison that destroys the lives of too many young Americans - too many young Washingtonians - every year.

Although meth has hit the Northwest harder than any other region of the country, Washington state has been making important strides in fighting the scourge. The cooperation of state and local agencies and programs combined with funding from the federal government has helped make our state a model for the national fight against meth. Managed through the Pierce County Alliance, the Washington State Methamphetamine Initiative distributes funding and organizes the collective efforts in each of the state's 39 counties. It is a bold, comprehensive program that takes a multi-front approach in our battle against meth.

The Initiative's partners don't just hunt down the dealers, they work to cure the addicts. They don't just clean up the environmental pollution left by meth houses, they provide counseling for neighbors and family members. They don't just hand out money, they craft collaborative solutions between communities, sharing resources for the common good.

In the end, a meth site in Grays Harbor County is sure to spill its toxins into the population of Pacific County. And the pain of a family in Long Beach with a son who abuses meth is not dulled by the young man's incarceration. Meth's collateral damage is evident all around our communities, and any solution that is not comprehensive is hardly a solution at all. You cannot cure a cancer with a band-aid.

By forming methamphetamine action teams in every county in the state, the Initiative brings together law enforcement, treatment, public service, businesses, and prevention experts to develop a plan that works for their own communities. After all, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for meth abuse.

I support the Washingtonian Methamphetamine Initiative by working hard in Washington, D.C. to provide our local officials with the federal resources necessary to battle methamphetamine's hold on our communities. Earlier this year, I helped secure $2 million in federal funding for the Initiative, bringing the four-year total to $11 million.

The Initiative's funding allows counties to hire deputies who work full time on meth, provide extra cleanup funding for raided or abandoned meth labs, and help fund drug and family dependency courts. In addition, the Initiative funds intervention and education programs to educate rural teens about the risks of methamphetamine abuse.

And the Initiative's actions appear to be working, as meth production in Washington state dropped 25 percent in 2003.

Unfortunately, this funding is not guaranteed. The Initiative's partners must operate each year under the assumption that congressional leaders could cut their funding. In fact, nation-wide federal funding to combat meth has fallen from $70 million in 2002 to just over $52 million for 2005.

That is why ?when Congress reconvenes next month, I will be reintroducing my Confronting Methamphetamine Act. This proposal will almost double the authorized funding for methamphetamine programs to $100 million per year - and eventually $200 million per year - and create a stable meth funding program that is fair and won't fall victim to the whims of congressional leaders.

Legislation alone cannot fix this problem. Legislation does not cure the addictions, lock up the dealers, or erase the environmental damage caused by meth's production. Legislation will not educate prospective users or counsel the loved ones of meth's victims. Legislation is not the solution - but it can be a strong step toward finding one.

Meth is a national problem, but the solution lies in the hands of the dedicated professionals fighting it at the local level. The federal government can support their efforts by providing a stable source of increased funding, which is why I'm committed to fighting for my proposal once Congress reconvenes next January.

Legislation can't reverse the harm that meth brings to our loved ones, our economies, or our neighborhoods. Legislation can, however, provide local officials with the resources they need to give our communities the chance to envision a meth-free reality, where houses like the ones I visited are a reminder of a difficult past, and not a symbol for a problem that's gone unsolved.

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