Methamphetamine is increasingly being made in the United States in small labs that are easy to move and hide, The Wall Street Journal reports.
These “one-pot” labs use a two-liter soda bottle and ingredients that can be bought through a single trip to a pharmacy. These small labs are spreading at a time when budget cuts are reducing police forces, making it more difficult for police to close down these labs.
Although the labs only produce small amounts of meth, they are toxic and highly explosive, and can cause fires and deaths. Incidents related to meth production increased to 11,239 last year, after falling to 6,095 in 2007, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The growth of small meth labs has prompted some states to propose bills that would require a doctor’s prescription for over-the-counter cold medicines that contains pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient in meth. Such laws already have been passed in Oregon and Mississippi.
Drug manufacturers are financing a national tracking network to monitor pseudoephedrine sales. So far 17 states have signed up. After federal regulations began to limit over-the-counter sales of pseudoephedrine to a few grams a day in 2006, meth producers began scaling down recipes so that just a few cold medicine packages are needed.
In many states, agencies have had to abandon tactics to confront meth manufacturers, after the federal government in February canceled a program that provided $19.2 million in 2010 to assist local agencies in disposing of meth labs.
Specialized training is needed to clean up meth labs, because making meth requires dangerous ingredients including ammonia, battery acid and drain cleaner. The waste cannot be discarded in a regular landfill.