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Authorities work to head off meth problem

Made from easily obtained ingredients, methamphetamine is highly addictive

Made from easily obtained ingredients, methamphetamine is highly addictive

March 28, 2005|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - The Washington County Narcotics Task Force is on the lookout for methamphetamine users, dealers and stores that provide meth's under-the-kitchen-counter ingredients, attempting to throw the first punch at a drug that has reared its head in areas surrounding the county.

Methamphetamine - also known as meth, speed, ice, chalk, crank, fire, glass and crystal - can be smoked, snorted, injected or taken orally and can cause its users to lose teeth, develop sores and lose excessive weight. It is made from ingredients such as Sudafed, nail polish remover, Windex and iodine.

"It is really the only major hard drug that can be made in America from start to finish," said Brett Wilson, a county prosecutor assigned to the Washington County Narcotics Task Force.

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Wilson said about 30 states have legislation that bars stores from selling more than three packs of certain over-the-counter medication to any one customer.

One such medication is Sudafed, which contains pseudoephedrine, the highly addictive drug's main ingredient.

Wilson said he hopes local lawmakers will propose legislation next year that would similarly monitor the sale of such over-the-counter drugs.

Methamphetamine has not been seen as a major problem in the county or in the state, he said. According to a March 2005 University of Maryland CESAR (Center for Substance Abuse Research) analysis, eight methamphetamine labs were seized in Maryland between January 2003 and May 2004, compared with 15,994 nationally.

But Wilson said the drug is known to be sold in tight communities and under police radar.

"We do see it or hear about it more now," Wilson said. "We're one of the last areas where it isn't."

In August 2003, the task force uncovered a methamphetamine lab in Washington County, Wilson said. The lab was being operated out of a motor home found stopped at the parking lot of Toys R Us near Valley Mall.

Wilson said the drug can be made inside homes, which is one reason the task force and the local office of the Drug Enforcement Administration anticipates it will turn up here.

In addition, meth "has always been known as a rural drug rather than an urban drug," Wilson said.

According to the CESAR report, among nine illicit drugs most commonly used by 10th- and 12th-grade Maryland students in 2002, methamphetamine ranked last, while marijuana ranked first.

Children between the ages of 12 and 14 who live in rural environments are more likely to use meth than those who live in larger cities, according to the DEA Web site.

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