The most recent Top 10 states for methamphetamine incidents including labs, seizures, dumpsites, etc., include: Indiana, Tennessee, Missouri, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, Kentucky, Oklahoma and South Carolina.
In recent years, Missouri held the title. What helped turned the tide in Missouri were local laws that required a prescription in order for customers to buy the decongestant drug pseudoephedrine – one of the primary ingredients for the drug that can be manufactured fairly easily in two-liter bottles in home meth labs.
A recent examination of Missouri’s descent from the top spot in American meth arrests by The St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper recounted the tale of two Walgreen stores in Fenton, Missouri that were selling 24,000 boxes of Sudafed per year in a town of 4,800 people. The local prescription law dropped those annual sales figures down to 2,000 boxes a year.
You’ll notice Mississippi is no longer on the ignominious Top 10 list.
Mississippi was among national leaders in an initiative to do something proactive to impede the manufacture of methamphetamine in Mississippi - an enterprise that had reached epidemic proportions prior to the courageous 2010 act of the Mississippi Legislature in adopting key legislation to make meth manufacture substantially more difficult in the state.
Despite a full-court press by the nation’s drug companies and howls of complaints from law-abiding voters who had no interest in methamphetamine but plenty of allergies, the Legislature passed a law establishing that a prescription is required to buy pseudoephedrine products in Mississippi. The state became the second to pass such a measure, joining Oregon.
The bill was the legacy of former Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics director Marshall Fisher, who left the MBN post earlier this year that he had held since 2005 to take over the Mississippi High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) task force.
The HIDTA program, created by Congress with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, provides assistance to federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States.
Fisher was a hard-nosed, no-nonsense former U.S. DEA agent who created an unusual coalition of fellow lawmen, social service advocates, and members of the media to take on the drug companies and their lobbyists. Lawmakers heard from countless sources telling them how much suffering could be eliminated simply by making pseudoephedrine a prescription drug – as it already had been prior to 1976.
On July 24, 2012, Fisher testified by the U.S. House of Representatives about his experience in battling meth in Mississippi: “We believe if all four of our bordering states were to schedule pseudoephedrine, methamphetamine labs would be eliminated almost entirely in Mississippi. As a law enforcement officer with more than three decades of experience, 29 years of which has been in narcotics, the scheduling of pseudoephedrine in Mississippi may be our most effective piece of law enforcement legislation in the last 30 years. Our officers do not deserve to be exposed to the dangerous chemicals found at these hazardous waste sites that once housed methamphetamine labs. Our citizens and our children do not deserve it either…
“Two years after the passage of this landmark legislation, the number of methamphetamine incidents in Mississippi is down more than 70 percent. . . perhaps the most important statistic is that the number of drug endangered children removed from methamphetamine labs in Mississippi is down nearly 80 percent,” Fisher told Congress.
Mississippi’s anti-meth laws became a signal to governments at all levels across the nation that the scourge of meth could be successful undermined with a little common sense and strong dose of courage when lawmakers are willing to be unpopular to do what they believe to be right.
(Daily Corinthian columnist Sid Salter is syndicated across the state. Contact him at 601-507-8004 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)