The opioid epidemic continues to plague Montana but today, Senator Steve Daines participated in a round table where officials from across the state discussed a bigger drug issue at hand.
Across the board, they agree meth is the biggest and most detrimental drug in Montana.
However, the local, state and federal agencies present offered different solutions to solve it.
"We’ve got to come together to fight this problem in Montana," said Sen. Steve Daines.
Some, like Jeff Kushner, with the Montana Supreme Court, say marijuana legalization should be stopped because the THC acts as a gateway to meth and other hard drugs.
It's real clear hearing from Montana leaders today is that you cannot have a one size fits all Washington, D.C. solution. Montana has unique challenges," said Daines.
The republican senator said we can't just throw money at the issue. Rather, we should invest in real solutions. In fact, the Montana Highway Patrol just received a $1 million federal grant. They're going to use that money to stop meth and other drugs on the interstate before it ever gets into the community.
"This touches nearly every aspect of the state budget in one form or another. So I think it’s better that the goal, the way I look at it is if we can stop this on the interstate before it gets into the community, that's a win win for everybody," said Colonel Tom Butler, with the Montanan Highway Patrol.
However, that’s just one solution. Some say the strongest defense is boosting prevention programs in our schools, because as shocking as it may sound, some middle schoolers admit to using meth.
"The average age for the participants is age 13. Usually when I tell people that statistic they have a hard time believing that maybe this is national, but no, this is our county," said Layla Eichler, Treatment Coordinator for the 1st Judicial District Court.
She says often drug using parents encourage their children to try meth or other drugs, usually because they don't want to get high alone. She says we need to strongly discourage kids from drug use and make them feel worthy of a healthy lifestyle.
Senator Daines says these are all good options and a more holistic approach is in order.
"This is going to be a long battle. We're going to win in Montana, but it’s going to take time. And we're going to have to continue to bring these leaders together, not just here in Helena, but across the state, because this is not an issue that just affects just one part of Montana. It is from north to south to east to west,” said Daines.
Daines says he wants to meet with the same group in the near future. Even though the numbers are stacked against them, he's optimistic they'll find a solution.