As illustrated by the New Bern bust, meth labs have the potential to be toxic, even deadly. The chemicals used to make meth can also be explosive.
Back in 2005, North Carolina officials said meth was poised to become the next big drug epidemic in our state. Attorney General Roy Cooper said "Meth is manufactured in the house next door, in the apartment down the hall, in a hotel, hotel room where you may be staying."
Repeated exposure to the toxic fumes can cause long-term and short-term brain damage, cancer and other cognitive problems for kids.
Cooper said "the places where they're made essentially become hazardous waste dumps."
In 1999, there were nine meth labs busted in North Carolina. In 2004, 322 labs were busted.
The ingredient pseudoephedrine, found in many cold pills, is the key ingredient needed to make meth. In 2005, North Carolina joined other states in taking most pseudoephedrine tablets off all store shelves and placing them behind the pharmacy counter.
Cooper's push for that move, as well as harsher sentences for criminals who make the drug with even longer sentences if children and law enforcement officers are endangered, are believed by many to have had a dampening effect on meth in our state.
In 2007, there were 150 meth labs reported in North Carolina.
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant that is smoked, snorted, injected and eaten. The United States Department of Justice at one point said meth had surpassed cocaine as the new drug of choice by our youth. According to officials, the street value of meth ranges from $80 to $100 per gram.
How can you spot a meth lab in your neighborhood? Here's what the NC Attorney General website says:
"Trash containing packaging from ingredients that are used to make meth can be an indication that a meth lab is located nearby.
This is especially true with regard to the key ingredient needed to make meth. A large quantity of cold medication packages is a strong indication of methamphetamine production.
Other common products used in meth production include paint thinner, antifreeze and drain cleaner. Some specialized products like anhydrous ammonia can also be a sign that a meth lab is operating in the area.
One telltale sign of a meth lab can be strong smells, including odors reminiscent of varnish or vinegar. Items used to cook meth can include glassware and tubing."
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