EDITORIAL: Drug wars

Illegal drugs and abused legal drugs continue hooking many Northeast Mississippians in addictive webs that rob users of their mental and physical health while destroying their financial stability.
The Daily Journal’s three-day series (Sunday, today and Tuesday) provides the context of why and how a rural area like Northeast Mississippi has drug criminality issues similar to the largest urban areas in the U.S. – often misidentified as the only places where illegal drugs and the problems associated with them exist with disturbing frequency of use and manufacture.
For the past several years, drug arrests led all categories of crime under jurisdiction of Mississippi law enforcement – about 17,000 arrests – and DUI was the second-highest category, with more than 11,000 arrests.
Cocaine, primarily crack, and methamphetamines, easily manufactured with rather ordinary chemicals, marijuana and prescription drugs – usually fraudulently obtained or bought on the black market – adversely affect Mississippians of all ethnicities, socio-economic classes and across the age spectrum.
Federal statistics show that “abuse and distribution of cocaine is associated with more incidents of violent crime than any other drug within the state.”
Federal reports indicate that popular abused pharmaceutical drugs include Oxycontin, Xanax, Valium, Vicodin, Dilaudid and Lortab. Large quantities are being obtained illegally in Mexico or in Texas border towns like Laredo.
Cocaine abuse, in its various forms, and crystal meth, are particularly troublesome for law enforcement.
Methamphetamine manufacture became more difficult in July 2010 when a new law took effect requiring a prescription for a key ingredient, the formerly over-the-counter drug pseudoephedrine. A Reuters news service article reported dramatic results after the law took effect:
“Meth lab busts in the state have dropped nearly 70 percent … since the law took effect. Officers seized 203 meth labs from July 2010 to February 2011, down from 607 seized from July 2009 to February 2010.”
However, neighboring states have not yet tightened access to pseudoephedrine.
Methamphetamine is considered second most serious behind cocaine because it is cheap, available, a threat to life and environmentally damaging in its manufacture.
Marijuana, to no one’s surprise, continues to be the most commonly used illegal drug in Mississippi. A 2007 survey of Mississippi high school students indicates that approximately 36 percent reported trying marijuana at least once in their lifetime.
Mississippi, despite its self-perceived isolation, is a drug corridor from the Texas-Mexico supply area, with drugs shipped frequently on Intestates 10 and 20, and then routed on Intestates 55 and 59.
Vigilance is essential to curtail the potentially life-destroying impact of what’s already here every day.

NEMS Daily Journal