The Country Drug

According the US Department of Health and Human Services, eighth graders in rural areas are twice as likely to have used methamphetamines than eighth graders in urban areas. The disparity between urban and rural students is less startling with other illicit drugs such as cocaine and alcohol, but with every illegal drug listed in the survey, rural eighth graders used more than their urban counterparts. I don't suppose anybody in the country has yet sent their child to an inner city school to get them away from drugs, but these statistics indicate it might not be a bad idea.

Northwestern Minnesota is just as bad, maybe worse, than anywhere else. The district court proceedings in today's Fertile Journal list several cases in Polk County which involved meth. Social services workers in rural North Dakota report not just that they have many cases involving meth, but that a majority of their cases somehow involve the drug, according to my memory of a newspaper report last spring.

The meth problem can seem abstract and far away, but a month ago, I ran into an acquaintance who I knew had battled meth addiction in the past. When I saw him, I was shocked. He looked skeletal, hollow-eyed, wasted away. Apparently he is using the drug again. Very sad. It appears as though it is killing him, and not very slowly.

Meth is peculiarly diabolical. Unlike other drugs, meth creates a craving which doesn't go away, even if you have been free from the drug for many, many years. In addition, the paranoid state of mind caused by meth makes its users quite dangerous, especially if cornered or threatened.

Meth is comprised of entirely legal chemicals. Cold medicines, toilet bowl cleaners, anhydrous ammonia. That raises the interesting question: At what point the possession of the components of the drug become illegal? I mean, if somebody has about 200 tablets of Sudafed and a case of toilet bowl cleaner, you know darn well what they're going to do with it, but how do you write a law, or should you write a law, to make possession of the immoderate amounts of the otherwise legal components illegal?

I think our drug laws are silly. Alcohol is legal, even though it kills thousands per year, both innocent people on the roads, as well as addicts--while marjiuana is illegal, which, as far as I can tell, only makes people stupid, unproductive and intolerably convinced that their every muddled thought is of lasting profoundity.

I would like to be libertarian on the matter--just let people do their stupid things (as long as they aren't hurting anybody) and suffer the consquences, which are severe enough without throwing them in jail for hurting themselves--but this meth thing seems more pernicious.

Kids should be shown the effects of meth up close and personal. They should be scared stiff of the stuff. Have them meet an addict. Have them meet a dozen addicts! Show them a blown-up meth lab. Show them the neglected kids. Telling young people something is naughty, illegal and wrong is inviting them to try it when they have a chance. Showing them that it is destructive, however, might get through. Might.