HANDLE CAREFULLY. NOT EXPECTED TO BE A HEALTH HAZARD.
June 17, 2007 1:53 PM   Subscribe

In an attempt to curb the production of crystal meth, more than 30 states have now outlawed or require registration for common lab equipment. In Texas, you need to register the purchase of Erlenmeyer flasks or three-necked beakers. The same state where I do not have to register a handgun, forces me to register a glass beaker.
America's War on Science: Chemistry sets and model rockets, the staples of any geeky childhood, have essentially become a thing of the past.Wired has more on how a security obsessed society is robbing both children and adults of the opportunity to discover science for themelves.
posted by [expletive deleted] (68 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Gah, themselves, dag nabbit. I need to learn how to proofread. Also, I put a space before Wired. I swear. I think.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 1:56 PM on June 17, 2007


You should never post while stoned, [expletive deleted]. *grin*
posted by ZachsMind at 2:08 PM on June 17, 2007


Full circle: during prohibition, pharmacists were the only legal vendors of alcohol.
posted by b1tr0t at 2:09 PM on June 17, 2007


You can still get model rockets, at least the Estes variety.
posted by caddis at 2:11 PM on June 17, 2007


That's depressing.
posted by empath at 2:12 PM on June 17, 2007


Crystal meth is perhaps the number one drug that I would like to see legalized. What an expeditious way to clean our gene pool.
posted by Chasuk at 2:13 PM on June 17, 2007 [5 favorites]


Sheesh. Like requiring registration to own glassware is going to do anything. I've worked in for-real legitimate laboratories where we've used old peanut butter jars instead of beakers in a pinch.

what happened to my country?</small
posted by Quietgal at 2:15 PM on June 17, 2007


oh crap, didn't close my tag
posted by Quietgal at 2:16 PM on June 17, 2007


From the article:

“A lot of schools don’t have chemistry labs anymore,” explains CEF educational coordinator Laurel Brent. “We want to give kids lessons that tie in to their real-world experiences without having them deal with a lot of strange chemicals in bottles that have big long names.”

I have the hope that this person reads her quote in the article and thinks, man, I really don't like the way that came out.
posted by furiousthought at 2:18 PM on June 17, 2007 [8 favorites]


Chasuk writes "What an expeditious way to clean our gene pool."

Nah that' slow, let's just cut electricty and water and see who survives ! Faster, more efficient !

posted "America's War on Science"

That's international war on science , glorification of idiocy and religion. I think that if chemicals need a warning sticket, then the bible and other so called "sacred" texts need a sticker with "warning: may generate terrorist beliving in omnipotent invisible beings ordering them to kill". My guess is religions have killed a lot more then explosives.
posted by elpapacito at 2:19 PM on June 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


I'm all for model rockets -- in the 7th grade, I made a shoulder-fired rocket system that was frighteningly accurate. Dangerous toys for boys, yee-haw.

But ya' know, it doesn't help the "there's a war on science" people when the homepage of United Nuclear, a vendor of lab equipment, has a banner that says "Looking for Some Uranium?" complete with a wink-wink smiling 50s guy.
posted by frogan at 2:20 PM on June 17, 2007


I once stole a test tube from my college chem lab to replace the broken stem of my bong
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 2:21 PM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have a suspicion that this is less about the drug war and more about making sure that people aren't able to make anything themselves.

CONSUME. DO NOT MAKE.
posted by empath at 2:26 PM on June 17, 2007 [5 favorites]


The CPSD probably plotted the assassination of Mr. Wizard.
posted by inconsequentialist at 2:26 PM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm all for model rockets -- in the 7th grade, I made a shoulder-fired rocket system that was frighteningly accurate. Dangerous toys for boys, yee-haw.

Mine was terrible. The rocket spun out of control ten feet from the barrel. It did, however, have a nice joystick handle and button, for a great effect and the 9v battery was attached to look like a clip. Good times.
posted by IronLizard at 2:31 PM on June 17, 2007


Which are the thirty states that make it illegal or require registration for the purchase of common lab equipment? I just went to five different sellers of the mentioned equipment and it appeared I was able to buy beakers and flasks with no problem. There was nothing in their 'policy' statements nor was there any restrictions through their shopping cart process.
posted by sluglicker at 2:34 PM on June 17, 2007


I could swear this is a dupe.

I loved my chemistry set as a kid and it was a big reason why I went into science in the first place.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 2:35 PM on June 17, 2007


When they came for the beakers I said nothing-- when they returned for the coffee pot it was too late..
posted by acro at 2:38 PM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


As if meth cooks need a specific-volume Erlenmeyer flask, as opposed to, say, a pyrex measuring cup... or like... a mason jar.
posted by tehloki at 2:40 PM on June 17, 2007


Mine was terrible. The rocket spun out of control ten feet from the barrel.

The trick for me was cutting grooves in the PVC pipe for the fins, and angling the fins slightly so the rocket spun in flight like a rifle bullet. A golf range finder told me the distance to the target, and some simple trial-and-error told me the angle I had to fire the thing to hit the target at a fixed distance, assuming I always used the same size engine. I got the idea from that old "castle and cannon" video game.

The next step was figuring out to rig a payload to explode on contact, and I would've had an RPG. I was thinking it'd be a plunger that'd hit a striker that'd hit a blasting cap or something.

But then I got interested in girls.
posted by frogan at 2:41 PM on June 17, 2007 [12 favorites]


SCIENCE
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:43 PM on June 17, 2007


The only specific example was Texas with Erlenmeyer flasks. I would imagine a lot of states might have restrictions on things like sodium metal and other things that could actually be dangerous.

Of course back in the 50s they published drug making experiments for kids in magazines. This was before the war on drugs, of course.

Crystal meth is perhaps the number one drug that I would like to see legalized. What an expeditious way to clean our gene pool.

Meth is legal, it's a schedule II narcotic, and can be prescribed by a doctor, and is used in the treatment of ADD, including in children. If it were unregulated, then addicts would be able to get pure drugs, so a lot of the health problems caused by street meth would not really be there.
posted by delmoi at 2:46 PM on June 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


"what they don't know is that we've substituted folgers' meth crystals instant coffee for their regular brand"

"so ... how's the coffee this morning?"

"WHAT THE FUCK!! ... THAT FLY! ... I CAN HEAR IT CRAWLING ACROSS THE SUGAR BOWL!!"
posted by pyramid termite at 2:47 PM on June 17, 2007 [12 favorites]


Holding life as sacred (The Culture of Life) and emphasizing bodily security are perhaps the cheeriest ways to positively recast an unspoken American todesangst.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 2:47 PM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was thinking it'd be a plunger that'd hit a striker that'd hit a blasting cap or something.

I still have the back half of a 410 shell with unused primer I'd planned to use for this, somewhere in here. Just tape a BB to it. I never did this because I ran out of engines and never developed the pop-out fins I'd planned to use (thereby eliminating the need for grooves and such). Also, with fins, the rifling is redundant as the fins would arrest any spinning motion in short order.
posted by IronLizard at 2:50 PM on June 17, 2007


Crystal meth is perhaps the number one drug that I would like to see legalized. What an expeditious way to clean our gene pool.

Meth isn't really all that deadly. Unhealthy if used to excess, certainly, but many users have survived regular large doses for years and upon quitting, have swung back to normal relatively quickly. But don't let me spoil your fun. Oh, wait, maybe I should.
posted by telstar at 3:11 PM on June 17, 2007


What happened to my country, indeed. Flat out lame.

Instead of accepting a little crime or the possibility of tragedy in order to retain liberty we give up liberty in the hopes of preventing crime.

But that's the trend.

Some months ago there was a thread on AskMe about the law requiring customers to register purchases of Sudafed. Most of the posters who answered supported the law.

The principle of the government interfering as little as possible is not one that many people identify with anymore.

I guess the government can regulate anything if it will save just one life.
posted by BigSky at 3:38 PM on June 17, 2007


enough of this, back in your cages people
posted by Max Power at 3:42 PM on June 17, 2007


Crystal meth is perhaps the number one drug that I would like to see legalized. What an expeditious way to clean our gene pool.

Eh, if you really want poor white people to stop breeding, give them a college education.
posted by kid ichorous at 3:51 PM on June 17, 2007 [11 favorites]


Estes-style model rockets are still legal and unregulated. Since the days of my childhood, the development has been towards high-power rockets that do require some degree of licensing and are usually flown by adults with lots of time and money. Still, there has been lots of posturing about them, just last month this episode occurred not far from where I live.
posted by Mcable at 3:56 PM on June 17, 2007


I have a suspicion that this is less about the drug war and more about making sure that people aren't able to make anything themselves.

CONSUME. DO NOT MAKE.


Did you not read this before posting it, or are you just stupid?
posted by atrazine at 4:13 PM on June 17, 2007


delmoi writes 'Meth is legal, it's a schedule II narcotic, and can be prescribed by a doctor, and is used in the treatment of ADD, including in children. If it were unregulated, then addicts would be able to get pure drugs, so a lot of the health problems caused by street meth would not really be there.'

At the risk of a derail:

I'm as big a legalizer as anybody -- actually much bigger than most -- but most of the health problems associated with meth don't come from impurities -- they come from compulsive use. Take away the artificial price barrier imposed by the fact that most production sale and distribution is criminal, and the chances are that you'll see that compulsive use increase, and those health problems increase.

None of which is an excuse for criminalizing possession or use, in my opinion. When the penalty the state imposes to protect you are worse than the thing they're trying to protect you from, something is fucked up, but I just thought I'd say.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:15 PM on June 17, 2007


[Dead Milkmen]
Alright! If you can dig it I wanna hear you shout Erlenmeyer flask!!!
[/Dead Milkmen]

But seriously, I have an Erlenmeyer flask for making yeast starters for my wonderous ales. Does this mean I can't move to Texas?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:31 PM on June 17, 2007


Um, I'm going to call bullshit, or at least overreaction.

You can order a "student distilling apparatus", complete with Erlenmeyer flasks, for shipping to Texas, from Edmund Scientific. They also have a lot of chemistry sets, and lab equipment.

Furthermore, you can get just about anything from industrial supply companies. As the article points out, liability concerns are the primary reason you can't get a kid's chemistry set, not terrorism. You can still buy nitrogen rich fertilizer and diesel fuel, right?

Furthermore, Walk through any toy store, and take note of how many kids science kits there are, and compare that with how many there were when you were young.

The linked blogcomplains about warning labels, and the overprotectiveness in society, etc. Yes, we can all make the argument that chemistry sets, model rocket engines and fireworks were safe for us so why aren't they safe for kids today, except that all of the kids who got blown up, shot or poisoned by these things aren't around to refute the argument.

Frankly, I'm amazed companies still sell power saws and table saws, given the number of idiots who cut off their fingers every year.
posted by Pastabagel at 4:42 PM on June 17, 2007


Most of the posters who answered supported the law.

Not me, I don't think, if I posted in that thread. You know our priorities are fucked up when it's harder, and requires a more in-depth inquisition, to buy cold medicine than it is to cross an international border.
posted by oaf at 5:04 PM on June 17, 2007


I'm amazed companies still sell power saws and table saws, given the number of idiots who cut off their fingers every year.

How the hell are you supposed to build theatre sets? I don't think Home Depot sells ready-to-assemble raked stages suitable for any size theatre.
posted by oaf at 5:06 PM on June 17, 2007


Pastabagel writes "Yes, we can all make the argument that chemistry sets, model rocket engines and fireworks were safe for us so why aren't they safe for kids today, except that all of the kids who got blown up, shot or poisoned by these things aren't around to refute the argument."

Seriously? I bet you could count the number of model-rocket-related deaths over the past 30 years on two fingers. In fact, I'll say it: No one has ever been killed by a model rocket.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:10 PM on June 17, 2007


I was killed by a model rocket. It was, I must say, a model death.
posted by hank_14 at 5:24 PM on June 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


A few excerpts from the Wired piece which stuck out for me:
“We are not just a recall agency,” explains CPSC spokesperson Scott Wolfson. “We have turned our attention to the chemical components used in the manu-facture of illegal fireworks, which can cause amputations and death.” A 2004 study by the agency found that 2 percent of fireworks-related injuries that year were caused by homemade or altered fireworks; the majority involved the mishandling of commercial firecrackers, bottle rockets, and sparklers. Nonetheless, Wolfson says, “we’ve fostered a very close relationship with the Justice Department and we’re out there on the Internet looking to see who is promoting these core chemicals. Fireworks is one area where we’re putting people in prison.”
Seriously, a consumer saftey agency putting people in prison for selling chemicals that may be used to make fireworks.
Popular Science columnist Theodore Gray, who is one of United Nuclear’s regular customers, uses potassium perchlorate to demonstrate the abundance of energy stored in sugar and fat. He chops up Snickers bars, sprinkles in the snowy crystals, and ignites the mixture, which bursts into a tower of flame – the same rapid exothermic reaction that propels model rockets skyward. “Why is it that I can walk into Wal-Mart and buy boxes of bullets and black powder, but I can’t buy potassium perchlorate to do science because it can also be used to make explosives?” he asks. “How many people are injured each year doing extreme sports or playing high school football? But mention mixing up chemicals in your home lab, and people have a much lower index of acceptable risk.”
Part of me feels that this is a manifestation of American anti-intellectualism. People fear what they don't understand, and the average American knows fuck all about chemistry, or any science really.
“To criminalize the necessary materials of discovery is one of the worst things you can do in a free society,” says Shawn Carlson, a 1999 MacArthur fellow and founder of the Society for Amateur Scientists. “The Mr. Coffee machine that every Texas legislator has near his desk has three violations of the law built into it: a filter funnel, a Pyrex beaker, and a heating element. The laws against meth should be the deterrent to making it – not criminalizing activities that train young people to appreciate science.”
So Texas has apparently criminalized coffee makers. That doesn't suprise me. This is what happens when people who don't think pass laws.
A guide for teachers of grades 7 through 12 issued by the American Chemical Society in 2001 makes the prospect of an hour in the lab seem fraught with peril: “Every chemical, without exception, is hazardous. Did you know that oxygen is poisonous if inhaled at a concentration a bit greater than its natural concentration in the air?” More than half of the suggested experiments in a multimedia package for schools called “You Be the Chemist,” created in 2004 by the Chemical Educational Foundation, are to be performed by the teacher alone, leaving students to blow up balloons (with safety goggles in place) or answer questions like “How many pretzels can you eat in a minute?”
“Kids are being robbed of the joy of discovering things for themselves.” Compared with students in previous generations, he says, undergraduates raised on hands-off science seem passive: “They want someone to do things for them. Even those who become chem majors and grad students are not as versatile in the lab, because their experiences in middle school and high school were so limited. This is a terrible shame. By working with real substances, you learn how to ask the right questions about the physical world, which is half the battle in science.”
Out-of-print texts like Julius B. Cohen’s 1910 Practical Organic Chemistry are being made available again in PDF form on file-sharing networks and the Internet Archive. To route around stigmatized chemical pathways, home experimenters are reviving 19th-century methods of synthesizing reagents from scratch. Shawn Carlson of the Society for Amateur Scientists calls this “embracing Grandpa’s chemistry.”
“Kids read about the great scientists and their discoveries throughout history, and marvel that people once did these things,” Lazar says. “But they marvel a little too much. Taking chemicals and lab equipment away from kids who love science is like taking crayons and paints away from a kid who may grow up to be an artist.”
posted by [expletive deleted] at 5:51 PM on June 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


I hope they go after the librarians next. Those fuckers are just asking for it by putting photocopiers so close to copyright-protected books, lending out CDs/DVDs willy-nilly, and generally showing people how to find out stuff for free on the internet. This is the sort of thing up with which we must not put!
posted by meehawl at 6:06 PM on June 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


When Erlenmeyer flasks are outlawed, only outlaws will have Erlenmeyer flasks.
posted by logicpunk at 6:29 PM on June 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


By "stuff," you mean "porn."
posted by oaf at 6:30 PM on June 17, 2007


Rockets and Meth, a natural combination. (scroll down)
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:48 PM on June 17, 2007


Some months ago there was a thread on AskMe about the law requiring customers to register purchases of Sudafed. Most of the posters who answered supported the law.

I predict in 30 years there will be scans of old Sudafed advertisements posted to Mefi like the half-dozen posts containing these images. Most commenters will agree that it was crazy that we took such scary, hard-core drugs for just a cold, but a few will reminisce about the days when aspirin could be bought from the store instead of turning to Canadian bootleggers or willow bark moonshiners
posted by peeedro at 6:49 PM on June 17, 2007


Also, while I hate to admit it, the chemist and voyeur in me 9829's Microgram. It's a wonderful little glimpse into forensic chemistry and the seedy underbelly of the black market. Thanks StickyCarpet.
posted by peeedro at 6:56 PM on June 17, 2007


Most of the posters who answered supported the law.

The way I recall it most posters were up in arms that they couldn't buy enormous amounts of cold medication at 3am, when they "needed" it. Don't take this wrong metafilter but it made me wonder if the US has a little bit of a problem with cold meds. I have taken Sudafed maybe 4 times and each time I got a very nice mellow buzz, kind of like Vicodin.
posted by fshgrl at 7:07 PM on June 17, 2007


You know, not so long ago I was looking for affordable glassware and chemicals. The cheapest sources that I found were homeschooling supply houses. They also sell textbooks that explain how Jesus makes redox go.

Oy, my poor country.
posted by phooky at 7:34 PM on June 17, 2007


Seriously, a consumer saftey agency putting people in prison for selling chemicals that may be used to make fireworks

The article says nothing of the kind. The article does not say that people are being put in jail for selling chemicals that can be made into fireworks. It reads "[t]he agency suspected that Lazar and White were selling what amounted to kits for making M-80s, cherry bombs, and other prohibited items; such kits are banned by the CPSC under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act."

The operative word is kits. A quick google search reveals you can buy potassium perchlorate from thousands of places in the US, and the harshest restriction any of them impose is that you can't buy it in your first order with them.

If the sale of fireworks and explosive devices is regulated, and most people agree they should be regulated, then the law would be stupid if it permitted someone to sell a kit with all of the parts you needed to build the explosive device as well as the explosive chemical itself, along with instructions.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:39 PM on June 17, 2007


Ya got yer war on drugs, war on christmas, and now war on science. Where did this minimization of the word 'war' start? With the so-called war on drugs?
posted by scheptech at 7:45 PM on June 17, 2007


Yeah I love the DEA micrograms. I love to see some of the stuff that the underbelly of society can come up with.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 7:59 PM on June 17, 2007


peeedro-- !March/07: "These solutions are locally known as “Sip-Sip” and “Lean,” Sodas mixed with cough syrup (containing codeine and promethazine) in Mobile Alabama.
posted by acro at 8:25 PM on June 17, 2007


I love to see some of the stuff that the underbelly of society can come up with.

Some of that underbelly is apparently composed of mad geniuses, looking at a few tricks. Though others, like soaking a rug in heroine, are just plain common sense.
posted by IronLizard at 8:29 PM on June 17, 2007


Err, heroin.
posted by IronLizard at 8:30 PM on June 17, 2007


This hubabaloo reminds me of the time I asked some Kevlar&trade manufacturers for samples back in '98.

I was reading Dupont's website and noticed they had the contact info for a bunch of Kevlar&trade manufacturers. I was really curious what the stuff actually felt like, so I shot off an e-mail to as many manufacturers as I could claiming I was working on a science project and wanted a sample for display purposes.

To my total surprise I actually got serious replies to my inquiries. Two companies sent me a bunch of swatches of kevlar with various thread counts. They looked like something you'd get at a trade show. Pretty nifty, I think I might still have a few.

However, a third company was really gung-ho about meeting my needs. I actually talked with this company by phone and they asked me how big a sample I'd like and I blurted out a square meter. They said no problem, all I had to do is fill out some paper work and send it to me.

Now, an important thing is that all these companies were in the US, and I was in Canada. A week later I got the paper work in the mail - it was a document that I was to sign promising that my high school was not involved in the development and fabrication of missiles.

I signed the thing, sent it back and a month later I got a nice kevlar towel in the mail. Unfortunately kevlar is a rather scratchy material, and it didn't get much use. I think we tried stabbing it to test its strength for lack of guns, but it wasn't really a big return on fun for my investment of time.

I doubt nowadays that they'd just take my word that my high-school wasn't making missiles.
posted by toftflin at 9:27 PM on June 17, 2007


I think it's wonderful that Big Brother keeps us safe in so many many wonderful ways from Saddam bin Laden. And so do you, DON'T YOU.
posted by davy at 9:27 PM on June 17, 2007


Hey acro, you mean these concoctions?
posted by davy at 9:31 PM on June 17, 2007


davy: They even provide the recipe (1:3 ratio).
posted by acro at 10:31 PM on June 17, 2007


The next step was figuring out to rig a payload to explode on contact, and I would've had an RPG. I was thinking it'd be a plunger that'd hit a striker that'd hit a blasting cap or something.

But then I got interested in girls.


I think that's the real culprit holding back science right there - girls! And their strangely magnetic curvyness!
posted by -harlequin- at 10:37 PM on June 17, 2007


That's international war on science , glorification of idiocy and religion.

No. While it's true that the attitude is not limited to the USA, the USA is the epicentre, much further ahead down that unfortunate road, and when it comes to other countries, the "war" are often/usually being exported or strong-armed into place by the USA.

Idiots are an international phenomena, yes, but I think pretending that this state of affairs in the US is normal among developed nations, is flat out wrong. To my sensibilities, the difference depending on which country I'm in is still night and day.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:52 PM on June 17, 2007


I'm so glad that crystal meth isn't big here yet.

I know you can get it in the right (wrong?) sort of club in urban areas, but it's rare.

Maybe it'll never catch on *hopes*
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:46 AM on June 18, 2007


fshgirl,

Here is the thread I was thinking of. There may be others. The law has plenty of champions therein, including yourself.

And yes, the U.S. has a problem with cold medication along with a host of other addictions, compulsions, and various associated coping patterns. Point granted.

oaf,

No, not you. You were just another data point on the difficulty of buying pseudoephedrine. Hopefully when the mandatory National ID tracking chips are implanted they'll start making cold medication more available.

scheptech,

I believe the first war on a nominalization was the War on Poverty, which was declared in 1964 by our fearless leader Lyndon B. Johnson. Since we've been kicking so much ass in that one we're following the good example. After all, sticking with what works is just common sense.

Personally, I think the trend needs broadening. Let's look for what's common to all of these wars. Let's see, we have poverty, drugs, and terror. How about we declare a War on Tragedy? Just think of the tremendous gains in liberty and happiness when we win! Not to mention the economic prosperity. Do you have any idea how much money U.S. businesses lose due to misfortune?
posted by BigSky at 5:55 AM on June 18, 2007


Meth Epidemic? There's been very little change (and maybe even a decrease) in first-time users of methamphetamines from the early 1970s to the present.

It's just more fear-mongering designed to sell you magazines and convince you to give up more of your freedoms.

Facts are difficult to argue with, that's why this brand of hype and demagoguery runs nearly fact-free. It's akin to all of the recent hype about 'super strong pot.' What happens when you double or triple the strength of a harmless drug -- nothing. It still can't kill you.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 6:32 AM on June 18, 2007


There's been very little change (and maybe even a decrease) in first-time users of methamphetamines from the early 1970s to the present.

so what? ... the change has been in the amount of hard core users and what they're willing to do to themselves and others to continue

i live in an area where there really is a quantifiable meth epidemic ... it is not something someone made up to sell magazines
posted by pyramid termite at 7:11 AM on June 18, 2007


Facts aren't hard to argue with; you just need more facts. Facts are meaningful only when fully disclosed and placed into conext. Even if you are correct about first time users (and I am not sure that good statistics on meth as opposed amphetamines in general are available prior to 1999, but I will concede the point) that only tells part of the story. Until recently meth was made in large quantities in a few labs and distributed like other hard drugs mainly to the inner cities. Hard drugs have always been available in the burbs and small rural communities but typically to a small group of users. Now there are many, many small meth labs. The labs themselves represent a danger to the community with their propensity to ignite and the witches brew of toxins used and often carelessly discarded. Let's just say most meth chemists aren't using certified toxic waste disposal services. Also, there are now more users in the rural communities than before. These are legitimate concerns, especially the small labs with their associated fire and toxic waste dangers. I think they have been overplayed (such as NewsWeek's meth mouth scare story) and restricting sales of lab equipment are likely to have little or no impact. Nevertheless, it is a real issue, if not as big and scary as some in the media have made it seem, but hey scary stuff sells magazines.
posted by caddis at 7:33 AM on June 18, 2007


caddis,

I don't know what you mean by 'recently', meth has been cooked in small scale operations for decades.

I lived in San Diego in the late 80s when some news shows were calling it the meth capital of the U.S. I'm not arguing that there weren't any large scale labs, but a lot of people back then were cooking it up in houses. My neighbor, for example, was busted for running a meth lab. The police were watching him and when he started taping up the windows they knew production was about to start. This guy wasn't some ground breaking underground genius chemist either. Nor did we live in some ghetto on the Eastside. Meth cooks going to national parks in R.V.s is so well known it's practically a cliche. They don't do it much anymore because it's played out. National Park employees were keeping an eye out for them years ago.

Also your claim that meth was distributed mainly in the inner cities is questionable. Meth has been popular in rural areas for quite a while.

But if you mean by 'recently' the last 15-20 years, then, no argument.
posted by BigSky at 7:54 AM on June 18, 2007


From what I've read the number of small-scale meth operations has decreased substantially, due to the difficulty in obtaining pseudoephedrine and ephedrine, and more "superlabs" out of the country have been making it and shipping it in.

I had some distillation apparatus set up in the basement of my rented apartment that I was using for making extracts. I thought about putting a sign next to it that said "This is not a meth lab," but figured that wouldn't convince anyone. My landlord went down there one day and wrote me a note questioning whether it was for drug manufacturing. I talked to her and told her what was involved and she OK'd it. Thankfully she didn't just call the cops right away, since I'd probably have to go to court to get all my equipment back.
posted by nTeleKy at 10:15 AM on June 18, 2007


Where did this minimization of the word 'war' start? With the so-called war on drugs?

It's older than that, going back at least to LBJ's War on Poverty.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:47 AM on June 18, 2007


I grew up on a farm and we didn't worry about any of this safety stuff. I think people are far too paranoid.
posted by jeffreyharmon at 1:24 PM on June 18, 2007


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