Panelists say meth making a comeback

Law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judges say methamphetamine use is on the rise in Billings, contributing to about half of the crimes prosecuted in the city and putting a strain on probation staff and drug treatment courts.

The Montana Meth Project and Billings Gazette Communications sponsored a panel discussion Monday to talk about the increased drug use and strategies to reduce it.

Montana Meth Project executive director Amy Rue says the group needs to expand its anti-meth message aimed at teens and target adults as well.

Montana Petroleum Agency spokeswoman Jessica Sena says oil companies in the Bakken oil fields also want to help eradicate the drug. She says dealers target oil workers because they work long hours and often earn high wages.

District Judge Mary Jane Knisely says investment in treatment programs is needed.