EDITORIAL: Meth plagues Colorado’s public spaces | Editorials

The next pandemic hit Colorado, but this time it’s not a virus. It’s meth. And it not only puts its users at risk, but the rest of the public as well.

Hardly a week seems to go by without another methamphetamine-infested public library making headlines. Four of them are closed to the public for the time being in the Denver metro area alone after tests revealed meth residues in them.

The last closure was just last Friday in Arvada. The closures prompted the Pikes Peak Library District in the state’s #2 metro area to announce it would conduct extensive testing of its branches for meth residues.

Meanwhile, the Regional Transportation District in Boulder closed the restrooms and ticket office at the bus station in downtown Boulder until further notice last month.

The transit agency posted on its website that it had “confirmed levels of methamphetamine and/or related substances that exceed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) limits in both restrooms and the adjacent hallway.”

As The Gazette noted in a lengthy report last week, the contamination incidents that have grabbed the headlines are just the tip of the iceberg.

Drug contamination in general is becoming a pervasive and pernicious problem in our state, reports The Gazette. Drug residues are showing up at gas stations, restaurants, grocery stores, and convenience stores—the list goes on.

Specifically, how bad is the methamphetamine mess? The drug decontamination services business is booming. The president of a meth lab remediation and biorecovery company in Denver told The Gazette his company used to travel across the country cleaning rooms. But its employees haven’t left the state in five years because there’s so much work in Colorado.

Some research has found that meth residues can remain on a surface for months or years, and decontamination is costly and time-consuming.

If it penetrates paint and insulation behind walls, it can cost tens of thousands of dollars and take months to clean up. That’s a lot of taxpayers’ money and downtime for the users of the corrupt public utilities.

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One wonders whether mask requirements will even return in public buildings at some point.

Unlike the last pandemic, however, this seems to be at least partly to blame for our country’s politics. Notable is her tolerance for — and indulgence in — Colorado’s burgeoning drug culture.

Legislatures’ 2019 decriminalization of possession of hard drugs, including meth and fentanyl, coupled with legislation reducing penalties for a variety of other offenses, has contributed to a climate of rampant drug use.

It was only a matter of time before meth users would shamelessly carry their habits into library and bus stop restrooms, as well as into private businesses and other places they find convenient.

They then leave these places unusable for others. The public increasingly risks exposure, whether it’s time for stories at the library or grabbing a gallon of milk on the way home from work. It’s an insult to law-abiding Coloradans.

Meth is a powerful and highly addictive drug that is often sold in powder or crystal form. The stimulant offers a longer-lasting high and can be cheaper than other illicit drugs. It can be abused in a variety of ways – ingestion, injection, smoking, snuffing.

And it can be deadly.

In 2021, meth contributed to 734 drug overdose deaths in Colorado. In 2021, more people died from meth overdoses than heroin, cocaine, prescription pills, and alcohol overdoses combined.

It’s bad enough that users are so recklessly putting themselves at risk. It is outrageous that our simple drug culture is putting the rest of the public at risk as well.

When will our lawmakers start taking Colorado’s drug pandemic seriously?

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