By Associated Press - Monday, September 7, 2020

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) - Laboratory results and law enforcement reports indicate methamphetamine use increased in Montana during the first months of the coronavirus pandemic.

Millennium Health reported a 34% increase in urine samples testing positive for methamphetamine after President Donald Trump declared a national emergency March 13, The Missoulian reports.

The lab company compared results from Jan. 1 through March 12 with results from March 13 through May 31.

The report authors analyzed more than 500,000 urine samples from various health care settings, although how many were from Montana was unclear.

The samples did not include drug testing done in the workplace or under court order, while many came from testing done by addiction treatment providers.

In Montana’s Yellowstone County, law enforcement tied increased meth use to violent crime.

The county experience a 21% increase in homicides, robberies and aggravated assaults from March through July, compared to the same period in 2019.

U.S. Attorney for Montana Kurt Alme said meth use and domestic violence were major factors.

Meth became more scarce and more expensive as the pandemic disrupted the illegal drug trade, with local prices doubling, Alme said.

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