Today there is growing concern that methamphetamine is spreading from the West to the East coast. Although there is minimal hard data on the supposed spread of meth to the East, people are looking at what can be done to manage the production, distribution and sale of the illegal drug. Attention has centered on Oregon's attempt to manage the purchase of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, which is available over the counter at many stores selling cold rememdies and other products. Now the big enemy appears to be drug companies that refuse to take ephedrine off the market because it is profitable. There is a recent drug, SineOff, that is now being marketed as a way to fight drug dealers because it doesn't contain pseudoephedrine. Is it helpful that advertisers are now one of the biggest operators in the fight against meth?
If you go to most stores today and buy any significant (more than one package) of Sudafed or other "me-too" drugs (with epe)--like a huge number of allergy-suffering people in these parts--and you have to pull out your driver's license, which they use to scan into the statewide data system. The local media has gone mainline on the issue, implicitly accepting the current view on the evils of epe-meth (see, for example, the local alternative rag.
Fortunately, The Sentencing Project has decided to take the methamphetamine controversy by the horns and question the developing panic and response to the issue. In a recent (June 2006) and appropriately titled report (freely available), The Next Big Thing? Methamphetamine in the United States, Ryan King develops a cogent and detailed analysis of data and concludes that there is no basis for the uninformed and misguided course of the present response to methamphetamine issue today. The upsurge of concern and panic appears unrelated to actual methamphetamine usage. The use of fear tactics and disproportionate punishments simply does not work; the current framing of the methamphetamine problem completely distorts what is really happening; it stands in the face of more practical and real world treatment strategies that work far more effectively and cheaply.