Everything I learned about making meth I learned from the U.S. Congress—specifically, from its no-nonsense investigative arm, the Government Accountability Office.
The GAO recently released a grim new report on the fight against the dangerous stimulant, titled “State Approaches Taken to Control Access to Key Methamphetamine Ingredient Show Varied Impact on Domestic Drug Labs.”
Don't shout "It's a cookbook! It's a cookbook" just yet: The report isn't actually a how-to, though it does illustrate how relatively simple it is for meth "cooks" to make their product.
“Meth can be made by anyone using easily obtainable household goods and consumer products in labs, posing significant public safety and health risks and financial burdens to local communities and states where the labs are found,” the report says.
Much of it comes from “superlabs” run by Mexican drug-trafficking organizations in Mexico and in California, “as well as by cooks in 'small toxic labs' predominately located in the central United States, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes and from the plains to the Appalachian Mountains.”
The report goes on to say, “Meth cooks have used two primary processes known as the Nazi/Birch and Red P methods to make d-meth. In recent years, meth cooks have developed a variation of the Nazi/Birch method known as the One Pot or Shake and Bake method that produces meth in one step where ingredients are mixed together in a container such as a 2-liter plastic bottle,” it says.
The easier method seemingly contributed to a recent resurgence in the number of meth labs. There were 15,000 "lab incidents" in 2010, compared with about 7,000 in 2007.
The report details the risks to those who make meth (or live with or near the “cooks”)—everything from severe burns or other injuries, to exposure to toxic chemicals (other than the final product). In the case of children, add abuse and neglect to the list. And that leaves out the costs to law enforcement, medical care providers, local governments, and places like motels where cooks sometimes set up shop.
Yahoo News reporter Chris Wilson contributed to this report.
(Yahoo News is indebted to the keen eyes of reporter Emily Ethridge, who covers health care for CQ Roll Call.)