Meth Highway

Most methamphetamine, as depicted in the above and below photos provided by the Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, is made primarily in superlabs outside of the country, including Mexico. The federal Drug Enforcement Administration estimates 85 percent of illegal meth comes from that marketing system, while 15 percent of the drug is made in mom and pop labs located largely in the western United States.

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As good as Canyon County residents can feel about the continued decline in crimes against property and people (as chronicled in Wednesday’s editorial), we should be equally concerned about another kind of crime that doesn’t show up in either of those two categories. That would be drug offenses, which increased by 18 percent in Nampa.

For all the well-publicized arguments about legalization of marijuana and how dangerous it really is, it’s easy to overlook what Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue emphatically believes is the biggest threat to the United States — methamphetamine. Despite the fact that its basic ingredients are harder to obtain in significant quantities in this country, the National Drug Intelligence Center reports that meth use has been increasing nationally, largely due to the huge quantities coming here from Mexico. And Interstate 84 is a major pipeline.

There are two main reasons you should be scared to death of meth: 1) it’s relatively cheap, and 2) it’s horribly addictive. A single hit of meth can release up to 10 times the amount of dopamine into the brain that cocaine does, yet it’s much more affordable than the latter drug is.

The real-life stories local law enforcement can tell you about the effect meth has had in the community are heartbreaking — parents giving the drug to their children, then “pimping” them out for more of the drug. Lives that are over before they’ve really even begun. Many of the crimes that do happen here are perpetrated by people desperate for their next fix. And because the drug is so powerful, rehab is all but impossible.

“It’s breaking down the economic hierarchy and social hierarchy of our entire nation,” Donahue said. “It’s so debilitating. It erodes people’s morals, ethics, family values, work ethic.”

The drug industry, like any other, plays by the rules of supply and demand. If there’s no demand, there will be no supply. It isn’t realistic to expect law enforcement to shut down the suppliers — the last time Mexican law enforcement tried that, 50,000 people died in five years, and the drug cartels are as strong now as they’ve ever been.

No, it’s up to us as a nation to end the demand. And we can start by being more vocal and persistent in hammering home the message to our kids that meth will destroy their futures.

Trends in pop culture aren’t encouraging. Drug use in general hasn’t been condemned to the degree it was a few decades ago. It’s going to be an uphill battle, and it has to be waged in each and every household.

Don’t hold any punches — you have to be bold. Bolder than the pushers. Get between your kids and meth in any way you possibly can.

* Our view is based on the majority opinions of the Idaho Press-Tribune editorial board. Members of the board are Publisher Matt Davison, Editor Scott McIntosh, Opinion Editor Phil Bridges and community members Marie Baker, Autumn Short, Bruce Krosch, Richard Maffei and Scott Hogan.

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