Methamphetamine Rears Its Ugly Head Yet Again
Last week’s slaying of Greenwood County Sheriff Matt Samuels served as yet another grim reminder of the need for the Kansas Legislature to take swift action on eliminating methamphetamine production in Kansas. Sheriff Samuels was shot on January 19 while attempting to serve search and arrest warrants at a home where meth production was suspected.
Methamphetamine is referred by several street names including “meth”, “speed”, and “crank” and is sold as pills, capsules, powder, and chunks. It is an extremely powerful stimulant to a person’s nervous system and works directly on the brain and spinal cord. The drug mainly interferes with the neurostransmitter dopamine, which makes us feel good about ourselves and gives us a sense of contentment. The drug is produced both locally as well as imported into the U.S. in an already processed form. Commonly used ingredients include over-the-counter medications containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, antifreeze, lantern fuel, battery acid, and drain cleaner.
The Midwest’s methamphetamine crisis is a result of two problems: 1) organized trafficking groups have steadily increased importation, and 2) an explosion in the growth of local meth lab operations. Kansas meth labs have been found in rural, suburban, and urban homes as well as barns and garages, motel rooms and motor vehicles. Some meth labs are even small enough to fit into a suitcase! The KBI reports that approximately 550 meth labs were seized in 2004.
To help combat this problem, a bill has been introduced (SB 27) which would restrict consumer’s access to various medications that are used in the production of methamphetamine. The bill is patterned after an 2004 Oklahoma law which has put a significant dent in meth lab operations in that state. This bill is currently working its way through the Kansas Senate and should easily pass through both the Senate and House. Let’s hope that this bill will quickly become law and is effective in dealing with this insidious drug.