Meth Project Study Author Declines Visit

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – The author of a study critical of the Meth Project said Saturday that it is unlikely he will be able to accept the Montana governor’s request to discuss his results with lawmakers.

David Erceg-Hurn, a doctoral student in psychology at the University of Western Australia, said he found Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s interest encouraging but said he has prior commitments over the next two months. He also cited a lack of funding for a trip to Montana.

The Montana Meth Project, copied in other states such as Wyoming, has criticized Erceg-Hurn’s work as a limited analysis that misrepresents the true results. The Wyoming Meth Project uses similar methodology as the Montana Meth Project to reduce use of the drug.

Erceg-Hurn reported earlier this month that results used to promote the program and expand it into other states emphasizes positive numbers, and hides bad news in the appendices.

Erceg-Hurn also said that meth use was decreasing even before the Meth Project began airing its messages, in part, due to changes in law.

Schweitzer extended the invitation to the researcher on Friday.

The governor has set aside $500,000 in his proposed state budget for the Meth Project. But Schweitzer said he wanted Erceg-Hurn to personally present his findings to make sure decision-makers look at all sides of the issue.

The researcher said in an e-mail on Saturday to The Associated Press that he was told the governor’s office does not have the resources to pay for his trip, and neither does he.

“It is encouraging that the Governor appears to be keen to critically evaluate the funding of meth-prevention in Montana,” Erceg-Hurn wrote. “Although I will not be able to make it in person, I am keen to contribute to the discussion in some other capacity, and will be endeavoring to do so.”

The Meth Project that has sprung up in other state was founded in Montana by billionaire and part-time Montana resident Tom Siebel.

Both Montana and Wyoming have reported meth usage rates far above the national level.