Governor Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Battling the Meth Epidemic

Battling the Meth Epidemic
By Rep. Kristi Noem

Earlier this month, I placed my hand on my dad’s worn Bible and made a promise to South Dakota to govern in a way that respects and benefits every person in our state. I promised to serve in a way that improved things for the next generation. My dream? To grow our state into a place where our kids can thrive. We’re going to produce a stronger tomorrow for the next generation.

But my parents taught me to do more than dream, they taught me to do. So 73 hours after I took that Oath of Office, I stood in front of the legislature and outlined my plan to create a stronger South Dakota for the next generation. One of those plans is to aggressively battle the meth epidemic.

As I’ve talked with first responders about our meth problem, they’ve told me of situations where they walked into homes of meth users and found kids starving in their bedrooms, their parents drugged out of their minds. Stories like this are frequent. In Iowa, a four-month-old baby was killed just over a month ago after his meth-addict dad forgot him in a swing. He died of malnutrition and infection. The police found his little body covered in maggots and sores – his parents too strung out on meth to remember his existence.

This is what our law enforcement has to deal with every day. Meth is filling our jails and prisons, clogging our court systems, and stretching our drug treatment capacity. But meth is rarely made in South Dakota anymore. The vast majority of this meth is coming from Mexico. Our meth epidemic is the price we are paying for our nation’s failure to adequately secure our southern border.

Meth destroys people, but it does much more.  It destroys families. It hurts our kids, and we see that in our schools, in our foster families, and in our health care providers. This breaks my heart. Not because I’m the governor. Because I’m a mom.

In the coming months and years, we’ll work to expand prevention and treatment programs. We need to do more to educate our young people about the effects of meth and give them strategies to avoid it. We’ll also help every South Dakotan learn to identify the early signs of meth use to increase early referrals to treatment. I want to reach meth users before they enter the criminal justice system and commit other crimes. Our objective isn’t to imprison people – that hurts families too. We need additional mental health services. We must help people beat their meth addiction and return to their jobs and families.

Furthermore, we’re going to get more aggressive in enforcing our laws against meth. We need to stop the traffic of meth into our state and crack down on those who deal drugs.

And while we crack down on enforcement, we must pave avenues for rehabilitation. Earlier this year, I visited Teen Challenge in Brookings – an incredible program that helps people struggling with life-controlling substance abuse and equips them to become productive members of their community. We need more options like this for people trapped in addiction, recognizing that second chances are available to people willing to walk the road to recovery.

I recognize this is a big problem to tackle, but I’m committed to confronting it, and I’m confident I have the plan to make an impact. We must continue having these conversations and addressing these problems to create a stronger South Dakota for the next generation.


9 Replies to “Governor Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Battling the Meth Epidemic”

  1. Former Sen. Neal Tapio

    I’m hoping for greatness from Governor Noem and pray she couragely addresses how meth moves through South Dakota.

    Dozens of law enforcement related officials have told me the large majority of meth moves through reservations. Further, they say the Mexican cartel lives on the certain reservations (and controls them) and create an atmosphere of fear and terror for native populations on the reservations.

    The real problem, as it has been explained to me is our law enforcement can not pursue drug traffickers (and human trafficking criminals) on the reservation because the sovereign nation status does not allow South Dakota law enforcement to pursue criminals on reservation land. Many native people have told me stories of how corruption exists in reservation leadership and law enforcement on certain reservations.

    I would strongly recommend our soon-to-be-great Governor take on these very root causes of the meth problem.

    1. There is a lack of hope and purpose for too many children across South Dakota. Speak from your heart about the Good News.

    2. Eliminate presumptive probation. It has taken power away from Judges, removed any teeth in the sentencing, and had a disasterous and deleterious affect on the very programs (like Teen Challenge) that are designed to help drug users escape addiction.

    3. Schools must implement a zero tolerance policy toward drug users. It is unacceptable that even one child is allowed to use illicit drugs. Schools must be a drug free safe zone. We must protect children as if our future depended on it.

    4. Investigate and highlight the true story of how drugs and meth move into the state. Do not be afraid to discuss how the Mexican cartel has set up shop on certain reservations and how they use their sovereign nation status as a safe harbor against law enforcement. Then declare a state of emergency where needed and get the Trump Administration involved in prioritizing this issue with federal law enforcement.

    Do not let people misconstrue these comments as racist. They are the opposite of racist, as I dare address core issues on the reservations that have been glossed over for too long, and that have left too many native children left behind.

  2. Tara Volesky

    Don’t forget the opioid epidemic…………….oh yes the most severe drug problem we face in SD is that evil CBD oil.

  3. Mike Hamburger

    I’m confused. The byline reads, “Rep. Kristi Noem.” Is she retaining two titles, or is her staff just that lazy and sloppy?

  4. Dale Kills Enemy At Night

    Thank you Neal, I’m a full blood Oglala man. Your exposing years of propaganda used as racism. Tribal government is using Full blood Oglala identity for claims of discrimination, while their not even Indian. Tribal gov. is playing both sides. They hate the full blood white people while hating, oppressing and discriminating against the full blood Oglala people. Full blood Oglala people do not govern the reservation as non-Indian people believe we do, we never have. A very manipulative propaganda playing both sides. Beware of those whom seduce you with their manipulating of blame of racism, and suffering.

    1. Noem Voter

      You’re right: opioids are terrible; they kill millions. Nevertheless, I support Kristi when she says: “One of my plans is to aggressively battle the meth epidemic. Meth destroys people, but it does much more. It destroys families. It hurts our kids, and we see that in our schools, in our foster families, and in our health care providers. This breaks my heart. Not because I’m the governor. Because I’m a mom.”

      Kristi gets it. I hope Gov. Noem, when she speaks tomorrow about budget priorities, outlines an aggressive, effective plan to combat the heart-rending drug epidemic. I heard Committeewoman Catherine Barranco address this important topic on KDLT this morning. She’s right. It’s time for action! Let’s support law enforcement in its vital quest to keep South Dakota Safe.

  5. Anonymous

    About a year ago, comments were made about the cartel taking root in the reservations. What’s unfortunate are these roots have grown down deeper and it’s going to be difficult to rot them out. God speed to the Oglala and other Sioux tribes… once some of the fiercest warriors across the plains.

  6. Tara Volesky

    There is a big market in SD for drugs. There wouldn’t be a market if people wouldn’t buy them. I really don’t think government is the answer.Government has spent trillions over the years and how has that worked out? It starts in the home. When Mom and Dad are using…..well, there you go. Kids are taught at very young age how destructive drugs can be. I remember kindergarten the cops would come and do demonstrations. There are those that can become victims in the case of over prescribed opiods from the Dr’s office which can turn into addiction. Everybody has a free will to choose the path they want to go down. You can’t make a person stop doing drugs. It’s got to be up to the person. Sorry big brother, you are not the answer.


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