Kanabec County, north of Minneapolis-St. Paul, is a mostly rural sanctuary of lakes, woods, isolated cabins and sometimes vacant farmhouses. It alao is a place where the clandestine production of meth is a growth industry, says the Minneapolis Star Tribune. At Mora High School, Superintendent Keith Lester looks into the faces of 10 students and wonders which two or three may have inhaled the toxic concoction brewed from cold tablets, Drano, battery acid, and the phosphorous scraped from the tips of stick matches. Authorities “have reason to believe it’s 20 to 25 percent of our students” who have used meth, he said. “A social worker was told by a student that he could walk down the hall and point out 50 kids who are using meth.
At the grocery store, managers control access to Sudafed and other cold remedies, key ingredients in meth. Ask for five packages of Sudafed now and someone will call the sheriff. Just about any rural county in Minnesota could tell a similar story of deepening frustration: sheriffs who lack the tools to stem the meth tide, health officials who plead for treatment options, educators alarmed by rising use of the viciously addictive drug among “good, active kids” trying to balance sports, music, school and work. Financially, meth inhales more than 10 percent of Kanabec County’s annual levy of $6.7 million, the total raised for law enforcement, schools, roads and other expenses. “If meth were to disappear from the face of the Earth, we could cut $750,000, maybe $1 million, out of our budget right now,” County Coordinator Alan Peterson said.