Meth problem puts Fresno in the national spotlight, again

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A recent documentary on "Vice News" highlighted the methamphetamine addiction problems among Fresno's homeless.

A homeless woman Action News talked with named Katherine told us she has been living on the streets for four years. She acknowledged drugs are a problem in the homeless community.

"You find that everywhere. You go. Everywhere, it's not in just one certain spot. It's all over," she said.

But, Katherine and her neighbor, Ronnie, who's also been on the street for years says not every homeless person is a drug addict.

"There's people that use and people that don't," Ronnie said.

Vice found a drug dealer, who sells to the homeless. He openly said that thanks to Prop 47, the law that reduced possession of small amounts of drugs to a misdemeanor. His job is easier.

It's something Sheriff Margaret Mims has been fighting. Mims noted;

"So, in the documentary, even the dealer of the meth to the homeless people identifies Prop 47 not being good for the public at large."

And Matt Dildine, CEO of the Fresno Rescue Mission says the change in the law has made it difficult to keep dealers away from the vulnerable homeless population.

"They have a low enough amount on them that they won't get arrested and that's something we constantly have to battle."

Mims cites another reason for the surge in meth use, is the extremely low price. It's dropped ten times from what it was a decade ago.

"And the supply, now coming from south of the border it creates plenty of product in the market which results in the price going down, easier for people to afford and the addiction problem proliferates."

Ten years ago, a BBC Documentary about Fresno was titled "The City addicted to Crystal Meth."

The perception hasn't changed. Mims says meth use remains a problem that affects not just the homeless.

"Meth addiction affects every family of every socioeconomic group its not just in poverty-ridden areas."

Mim notes the characterization of Fresno as the nations "Meth Capital" is not accurate.

While drug addiction could be considered a nationwide epidemic, statistics show cities in the midwest and south have higher methamphetamine addiction rates than Fresno, and as compared to other states California has among the nations lowest rates of drug addiction.
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