Friday, December 22, 2006

Restricting sales of meth's main ingredients lowers rate of home brewing

Editorial: Progress in meth fight
Louisville Courier-Journal, July 12, 2006, pg. A6.

Last year, the legislatures in Kentucky and Indiana passed laws to make the home brewing of methamphetamine more difficult.

The result has been encouraging: This year, police in both states report that they have found fewer meth labs to seize.

Both states did what more than 30 others have: They restricted the sale of one of meth's main ingredients — cold and allergy pills containing pseudoephedrine.

It was a simple step to take, although controversial for a time: Some lawmakers fretted that folks with colds might be inconvenienced.

But that has not turned out to be a problem, and even if it had: What's a little inconvenience in a war against a highly addictive and destructive drug?

One of the most vexing parts of the methamphetamine problem has been that the ingredients are so readily available and the recipe so simple that people can cook up meth in their apartments, motel rooms, trailers or even in a moving vehicle.

Of course, a brew made of such chemicals as lantern fluid, paint thinner, agricultural fertilizer and drain cleaner is also highly explosive when heated, and toxic when ingested. It does lasting damage to the brain, heart and other body systems.

Meth has been a special problem in rural states such as Iowa, Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana. Foster care systems have been overwhelmed by children who have had to be removed from their homes. Rural jails have been overcrowded. Even hospital burn units have been burdened by the meth epidemic as meth cookers whose labs exploded have been brought in.

So it's great news that in Kentucky police have found 57 percent fewer labs to seize in the last year. In Indiana, they've seized 24 percent fewer.

Unfortunately, however, meth is still very much with us. Police now are seeing more of a purer form that often comes from Mexico.

So, although an important battle has been waged and won, the war is hardly over.

States' foster care systems, rural jails and even hospital burn units have been overwhelmed by the meth epidemic.


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