Monday, September 24, 2007

Rural Sociological Society quarterly article traces the history of methamphetamine

In the latest issue of the Rural Sociological Society's publication, "Rural Realities," Joseph F. Donnermeyer and Ken Tunnell explore how methamphetamine production shifted from its beginnings in large-scale labs on the West Coast to smaller, mobile labs in rural areas. The article, called "In Our Own Backyard: Methamphetamine Manufacturing, Trafficking and Abuse in Rural America," explains that with the shift, new users in rural America tried and grew addicted to the drug.

As meth became a rural scourge, enforcement stiffened, especially as states restricted the sale of the cold medicines ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, Donnermeyer and Tunnell write. This has led to a resurgence of large meth labs in Mexico and California, but small, isolated labs remain common, especially in rural areas such as U.S. Forest Service lands. "The net effect is that we find in rural America today a national network of meth production and wholesale distribution dominated by international sources coexisting with much smaller production and distribution shops operated mostly by locals," the researchers write.

They find that meth production and abuse both hurt rural communities' people and land. Meth addiction adds to poor health, and increases the risk for violent crime. Adding to the problem is that rural areas lack adequate health care facilities and professionals to treat addicts. The production of one pound of meth also generates five pounds of toxic waste, so meth labs bring contaminants into rural areas. To address the situation, Donnemeyer and Tunnell advocate the use of drug courts, which emphasize treatment, and say that rural residents need to learn how to identify a mobile meth lab. To read the full article, go here.

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