Meth use now USA's top drug problem, survey finds

Monday, July 11, 2005 

Methamphetamine use is now the nation's most serious drug issue, according to a survey recently completed by the National Association of Counties (NaCO). The survey received responses from 500 county law enforcement agencies in 45 states. 58 percent of counties in the survey said that methamphetamine was their largest drug problem followed by cocaine (19%), marijuana (17%) and heroin (3%) as the most problematic drug for each county.

Methamphetamine is a growing problem, nearly double what it was three years ago in many regions. Over the last three years, 88 percent of counties have experienced an increase of meth-related crimes. Regions reporting the largest growth include the Upper Midwest, Southwest, and the Northwest - all reported a 93 percent increase in meth-related arrests. The Lower Midwest came in a close second with arrests increasing by 90 percent.

Meth labs use highly flammable and explosive materials to produce the drug. Due to this, meth labs have been known to explode in spectacularly devastating events. The waste produced in the process of making methamphetamine is disposed of using improper methods, leaving significant amounts of toxic waste in streams, groundwater, and septic systems.

The report contains numerous inaccuracies. Notably it states that "In the past 70 years, a new group of drugs have appeared on the horizon. These are not drugs like heroin, marijuana, and cocaine, but rather the synthetic drugs that use amphetamines as a primary ingredient in their manufacture. Known collectively as methamphetamine, they have been nicknamed meth, crank, crystal, speed and many other local or regional variations."

Amphetamine was first synthesized in 1887, dating the appearance of amphetamines to almost 120 years ago, not 70 as stated in the report. The drugs themselves are known collectively as "amphetamines" not as "methamphetamine" which is only one specific compound, not a group of compounds. Other amphetamines include Dexedrine, MDMA (Ecstacy), MDA, and MDE. Amphetamine itself has been prescribed to millions of children and adults alike to treat ADD/ADHD. Dexedrine has been used by the Air Force to keep pilots alert during long missions.

In another error of fact the report states that "in 1965 the federal food and drug laws were amended to try to decrease the black market sales of amphetamines" - Amphetamine products were first curbed in 1959 when Benzedrine was removed from store shelves by the FDA. It is possible that the authors thought that the Comprehensive Methamphetamine Control Act of 1996 was a 1965 bill because its designator was "Bill Number S.1965".