Hawaiʻi Public Radio investigates the lingering and long-term effects of crystal methamphetamine on Hawaiʻi’s communities in its first extensive four-episode podcast and radio series. The series, called “Hawaiʻiʻs New Ice Age: Crystal Meth in the Islands,” will be broadcast starting May 25, and available for subscription at www.hawaiipublicradio.org. The radio stories will air on both of HPR’s two streams on Wednesdays and Thursdays until June 16: at 7:40 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on HPR-1, and 12:30 p.m. on HPR-2. The series is produced by HPR, with cooperation on the podcasts from Honolulu Civil Beat.
“As we started looking into this epidemic, now in its third generation,” said the project’s writer and executive producer HPR News Director Bill Dorman, “we were struck most of all by the personal stories. Not just the stories from users, but those we spoke to who are working in recovery, in the judiciary, and in law enforcement. All spoke with concern about what meth is doing to the social fabric of our islands. One of our interview guests summed it up, ‘Meth has no aloha.’”
The extended podcast episodes as well as the shorter radio pieces reveal statistics that many will find surprising: 94% of federal drug cases in the state involve methamphetamine, and the state’s largest hospital emergency room sees 45 people a day with some complaint related to meth use. Doctors are also finding positive tests for the drug in people in their 80’s, as well as seeing in the large population of former users signs of chronic health problems.
Said Michael Tiiterton, President and General Manager of HPR, “This series is a perfect display of good old-fashioned journalism and 21st century technology. If our news team’s perseverance, passion, and podcasting can rekindle interest in this issue so critical to Hawaiʻi’s future, local public radio has done its job for another day.”
Among those interviewed for this series are The Honorable Edward H. Kubo, Jr.; Dr. Ronald Kuroda, Medical Director for The Queens Medical Center, West O‘ahu; Dr. Daniel Chang, The Queenʻs Medical Center; Mitch Roth, Prosecuting Attorney for Hawai‘i County; Gary Yabuta, Executive Director of the Hawai‘i High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area and former Chief of Maui Police; Jim Rouse, a public defender on Maui; and Hannah Ii Epstein.
Primary reporting for this project was done by Noe Tanigawa and Molly Solomon of Hawai‘i Public Radio. Further reporting was done by Wayne Yoshioka of HPR, and Nick Grube and Eric Pape of Honolulu Civil Beat.