Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Meth clean-up costly

I've been wondering for a while now about all this press regarding the high price tag on cleaning up these clandestine meth labs they keep busting. It hasn't made sense to me.

I have to confess that in 1970 I snorted up a whole lot of crystal meth myself. We used to get it from some kid at MIT that brewed it up in the school labs or maybe his dorm room. So I'm thinking if they've been cooking this stuff up for at least the last 34 years -- why haven't we heard about all this toxic waste until recently? I put the question to the fine minds on my discussion list.

It turns out this is just another failure of prohibition policy. When the government made purchasing the precursor ingredients against the law, they made the "clean" method of cooking meth with safely manufactured chemicals impossible. The meth makers were then forced to find ways to make the precursor ingredients as well and I'm told that these are the culprits that cause the toxic waste. The laws didn't stop the manufacture of the drug, they merely made it more dangerous.

The devil of this failed prohibition is in this sort of unintended consequence. Whereas before, you had only the problem of meth addicts, now you also have the problem of properties contaminated from the unregulated processing of the substance.

Does your government take responsibility for this failure? Of course not, and since the busted meth cookers are largely the poor and disenfranchised, the prohibition profiteers simply pass the significant costs of cleaning up onto the innocent landlords.

Let me say this again, "You can't stop people from using drugs and as long as there is a market, there will be suppliers." If they had legalized and regulated this drug 30 years ago, landlords like 78 year old Clifton Moneymaker (who has never even heard of meth) would not be forced to clean up the mess the DEA left behind -- not to mention he would still be collecting the $500 rent he depends on to meet his expenses.


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