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December 19, 2004

Meth Lab Problems -- Historical Context

Nicolas Eyle of the Syracuse-based organization ReconsiDer: Forum on Drug Policy is a partner in this effort. This is his first entry.

With all the recent press about the methamphetamine problem I think a little background might be helpful in deciding what to do about it. First of all we should be aware that meth was completely legal in America, available without prescription, over the counter, at any pharmacy until 1954. I don't recall hearing of any of these problems then. Why? What has changed?

Were there people who abused meth before 1954? Of course. Did those folks wreak havoc on the environment by dumping the toxic chemicals they used to make the stuff in our streams? No. Why? Because it was made by big drug companies who were regulated and controlled by the government. For the most part they disposed of their waste products in approved ways.

Did those early meth users shoot each other over their black market drug deal disputes? No. Why? Because there was no black market... remember, any adult who wanted it could legally go buy it at the local drugstore.

With such easy availability was there a big problem with amphetamine abuse? Not according to the AMA at the time. They objected to the prohibition of amphetamine.

So what is the cause of our recent problems with this drug? The problem is not actually with the drug itself but with the way we chose to handle the drug. Prohibition creates a violent black market, does not recognize age restrictions on sales, and does not address purity or dose controls or environmental concerns. We've chosen to turn those issues over to the criminals.

Nicolas Eyle, ReconsiDer

Posted by nickeyle at December 19, 2004 12:31 AM

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