A Portland Or., policeman drives through the neighborhood of his youth, where burglars addicted to methamphetamine ravage homes. A school counselor sees a wave of children, tattered, unfed, and unwashed, from homes where parents favor meth over their kids. In another neighborhood, one man wages his own battle, buying and leveling the drug house next door only to see another one pop up a block away. The Oregonian reports that Oregon is at the forefront of the nation’s methamphetamine epidemic. The state treats more people for meth addiction per capita than anywhere else. Portland cops call it the “demon drug,” saying every dose is like injecting pure evil into users’ bloodstreams and whatever streets they roam at night.
Four out of five hits of meth are made by Mexico-based drug cartels using massive “superlabs” in California, say federal drug agents. A five-part series by The Oregonian this month reported that the federal Drug Enforcement Administration could significantly disrupt the meth trade by policing bulk shipments of meth’s key ingredients, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, from a handful of overseas factories. In Oregon and other Western states, users make the remaining one-fifth of the trade’s supply. They use store-bought cold medicines and other ingredients to cook the drug in home meth labs. Gov. Ted Kulongoski acknowledges that the problem cannot be solved without a concerted, national strategy. But Oregon is attempting to take meth ingredients out of the hands of local cooks. Last week, the Oregon Board of Pharmacy agreed to put cold pills containing pseudoephedrine behind the counter and require identification for sale.