EDITORIAL: Meth’s comeback

A resurgence of illegal methamphetamine production (aided by simpler methods) in Mississippi and other states in the region has sent meth busts and prosecutions soaring, but even strong enforcement doesn’t appear to be slowing the crime wave.
Methamphetamine, one of the most addictive drugs and potentially deadly, is the product in criminal hands of a strange and repulsive recipe: cold pills, starter fluid, muratic acid, Acetone, lye, and other compounds that can rot your insides.
Meth previously required literal “cooking” – a dangerously explosive undertaking often hidden from sight in rural areas where the foul odors of the process could dissipate and detection was difficult.
The “shake and bake” method simplifies the process, but it is still potentially explosive and, of course, illegal. It involves fewer chemicals and plastic soft drink bottles, no cooking.
The illegal drug is widely associated with euphoria and hypersexuality.
Most importantly, the amounts of common substances used in the new method make it easier to avoid raising suspicions about the amounts of certain substances purchased.
At least 10 states in the southern and central regions of the nation report 2009 increases in meth lab seizures or meth-related arrests from 2007 to 2008. Mississippi is one of them.
The Associated Press reports that the Mississippi State Crime Lab participated in 457 meth incidents through May 31, up from 122 for the same period a year ago – a nearly 275 percent increase.
The lack of a central data base to instantly track meth-ingredient sales hinders enforcement in Mississippi. Meth makers, with lower visibility and lower volume, shop in multiple places and stay under restrictions placed on sales.
Mississippi legislators obviously should start asking questions about finding the right technology to make an instant reporting system affordable and operational, looking to provide at least some of the startup costs for businesses in the reporting process.
Citizens also can help by being alert in finding used soda bottles filled with a brownish, foul sludge that is the by product of shake-and-bake methods. If you find one, report it.
This is the cost of methamphetamine’s use in our culture:
– An expert analysis found that nearly two-thirds of the economic costs caused by methamphetamine use resulted from the burden of addiction and an estimated 900 premature deaths among users in 2005.
– The economic costs were set at $23 billion, about four times Mississippi’s state budget.
– Crime and criminal justice expenses account for the second-largest category of economic costs.
Our state obviously cannot financially and behaviorally afford simplified meth production and expanding use.

NEMS Daily Journal

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