Researcher: Meth Project Shouldn’t Get State Money

By Beacon Staff

GREAT FALLS – The author of a study critical of the Montana Meth Project has recommended that Gov. Brian Schweitzer and the Legislature withhold state money from the advertising campaign.

David Erceg-Hurn, a doctoral student in psychology at the University of Western Australia, said he evaluated reports and news releases issued by the Montana Meth Project since the campaign’s launch in 2005. In a study published in the December issue of Prevention Science journal, Erceg-Hurn said campaign administrators have exaggerated their success and ignored negative findings, at a cost of millions of dollars.

“Given the Meth Project has not been able to demonstrate after three years that its ad campaign is effective, it seems inappropriate for the Legislature to allocate public funding for the project,” Erceg-Hurn said in the recommendation.

He suggested that money be redirected to programs that have been proven successful in research trials and said the state should focus meth-prevention efforts on teenagers who are at high risk of using the drug, rather than on all teens.

Peg Shea, executive director of the Montana Meth Project, said the researcher based his study on a limited analysis of the campaign. She said surveys show overwhelmingly positive results from the advertisements.

The Montana Meth Project was founded by billionaire Tom Siebel, a part-time Montana resident who also provided the initial funding for the campaign. About half of the project’s $2 million to $2.5 million annual budget currently comes from the state and federal governments. Schweitzer has set aside $500,000 for the campaign.

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