The Destruction of the Domestic Meth Industry
Today on my way home from work I heard NPR say something about 90% of meth in the US comes from Mexico, which blew my mind. I’m really not sure what to make of that, but I’m going to shoot from the hip with some of my thoughts.
Meth has been a big problem in Iowa for a long time to the point where I thought I lived near the Napa Valley of meth production. About a decade or more ago I remember low-rent gas stations selling “first aid kits”, which were basically all of the over the counter ingredients to make meth. I also remember that when you were walking around in certain neighborhoods, occasionally you’d come across a funny smelling garage. Farmers had to lock up their liquid fertilizers and law enforcement would take the helicopters out to see if they could find meth labs out in the country. My grandmother had the authorities come to check out some junk she had in the back of her property because they thought it could be a meth lab (it wasn’t). A lot of lives have been ruined by it and the meth head archetype is pretty well burned into our local psyche at this point – we see them everywhere.
The fact that the domestic meth industry is against the ropes but the Mexican meth producers are filling the void is another example of how the war on drugs is a failed endeavor and we’re probably worse off having Mexican drug cartels involved than a few “rednecks” out in the woods. I’m not saying that meth should be legal or that it’s more desirable when it’s locally sourced I just think it makes a bad situation worse when you have Mexican drug cartels involved.
I also think that meth related problems don’t get a lot of national attention, probably because it seems to be more of a flyover country problem than anything. It’s interesting that it’s not in pop culture the same way crack was in the early 90’s (i.e. lots of rappers mentioned it, a few mainstream movies about it, etc.). There’s been a few B movies about it (like Iowa, a shitty film about making meth in rural Iowa) but you never hear about say, some nu-metal band singing about it.
I think if you look deeper at this, there’s shades of a rural-urban, red state – blue state, etc. divide here. I feel like when we have discussions about poverty and social issues at the national level, they mainly focus on major urban centers. No one really cares about little Jimmy in a place like Southern Iowa and his dead end $7.50 an hour job and meth addiction or the slew of small towns/lower-class neighborhoods that have been ruined by meth.
Just a few random thoughts on a rainy fall night spent thinking about meth. I’d like to write more about this later.