Recently I received in the mail(real paper snail-mail) a pamphlet outlining the dangers of meth-amphetamine. It was a stark warning to all concerned citizens. It highlights the danger of meth. It details some of the signs that a meth lab is in operation and advises on what to do if one suspects a meth lab is in your neighborhood. Certainly this “new” drug is far more dangerous than the drugs of the last few decades. Users often develop irregular heart beats, and a myriad of health problems. It is highly addictive, potentially deadly, and just plain nasty.
So what, if anything, can society do to stop the scourge? Can we pass a law? Can we impose stiffer penalties? Can we put more cops on the street to stop people from making and selling meth? Well, the answer is not so clear.
Where did this new drug come from? Are Columbian Drug Lords invading Van Wert? Is the county airport now home to clandestine air-drops of this substance? Nope. It's being made right here in town by our neighbors. It's being cooked in garages, in campers, and the trunks of cars. The fact that it can be made right here removes the old stereotype drug lord from the picture. No longer is the producer of poison far away in a tropical jungle with a lab and an airplane. Using off-the-shelf ingredients people can brew this stuff nearly anywhere. Using cold medicine, a recipe from nearly any chemistry book, and a few other elements, the guy down the street can turn himself into Tony Soprano over night.
A few lawmakers have decided the problem is in the cold medicine. In Oklahoma, the first state to regulate the sale of ephedrine, some surprising trends have emerged. According to government crime stats, since the regulation of over the counter cold medicine went into effect, the number of meth makers has fallen by 90% in Oklahoma. Good news right? Wrong. While powdered meth has decreased; the availability of Mexican Crystal Meth has grown by 500%. No longer produced in Oklahoma, the streets are now flooded with imported meth. This stuff makes the locally produced stuff look like powdered sugar. It's far more concentrated and far more deadly. We will soon see the same things in our town.
This is not a new paradigm, it's not even a new drug. Meth was first produced in World War 2 to provide soldiers with a quick pick up that would enable them to perform for days with no sleep. The Nazis, the British, and yes, the good old US of A used meth to keep going.
We have been down the prohibition road before. During the Volstead Act that was passed by Congress in 1919, people started brewing Moonshine and Bathtub Gin. These were highly concentrated and highly dangerous substances that nearly anyone could make. It soon became apparent that the cure for alcoholism was far worse than the disease. People were still drinking but instead of beer and wine it was Mezcal and Whiskey. Instead of Miller and Budweiser it's Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly.
So now here we are again. The Government in an effort to protect people from themselves are going to do the same thing. All over again. We are going to take a bad problem and make it worse. I do not want my child to grow up in a world like Chicago in 1930. But this is exactly what will happen.