Muslims, Meth, and Mexico

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The latest version of the Patriot Act contains provisions for limiting the amount of cold medicine that a person can purchase at one time. Pseudoephedrine is a primary ingredient of cold medi-

In 1986, only 16% of government redistribution was directed toward the poor. The wealthiest 10% of u.s. farmers receive 72% of the subsidies.


cations, but it is also a key ingredient for the manufacture of methamphetamine, or meth, the latest drug scourge to sweep this nation.

I’m somewhat confused. Sure, I understand the nebulous link between other imported narcotics and terrorism; hashish, opium, and cocaine have funded guerrilla armies for years. But meth is mostly a domestic product. It’s popular because it can be cooked up in a trailer with over-the-counter ingredients and simple appliances you can buy in any Wal-Mart. I doubt that there is any terrorist activity being funded by methamphetamine manufacture; people in the meth culture are more likely to be militia members than Muslims.

Meth’s ease of manufacture guarantees that it stays dirt cheap. For a couple bucks, you can get enough to keep you high for a week. Most imported narcotics like cocaine and heroin are distributed by intricate organized networks that work much like liquor distributors. Since distribution of those drugs is severely limited by the DEA, the price is highly inflated.

Meth is quite common, and gaining in popularity. Libertarians who advocate legalization of all drugs should take a good long look at the meth culture before they say that legalization would eliminate social ills. Although meth is highly illegal, I think it has been a great experiment in what might happen if all narcotics were readily available. While I agree that anyone who wants to become a skinny toothless psychotic should have as much access to meth as he can afford, I think that those who say that legislation is the only problem with drugs are quite mistaken.

There is very little gang activity, organized crime, theft, or prostitution associated with meth. Instead, we see ether-filled trailers blowing up, meth labs with playpens, and pregnant women on three-week benders. Yes, there is a social problem, but through no stretch of the imagination is there a link between meth and terrorism.

Even before the Patriot Act limited the amount of Sudafed that could be purchased, state laws and voluntary regulations by national drug store chains were limiting the amount of cold medicine available for meth manufacture. These effects are already being noticed. On a recent trip to Arizona, I saw a local news broadcast on a major drug bust on the Mexican border. The contraband included a large amount of marijuana and methamphetamine. Availability of pharmaceuticals, great stretches of sparsely patrolled desert, and a police force that can be purchased by the highest bidder have all made Mexico an attractive candidate for meth lab outsourcing. Apparently whenever there is a demand, a supply will appear. Perhaps our drug czars and authors of future Patriot Acts need a refresher course in economics.

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