Missouri has regained the dubious distinction of national leader in seizing meth labs.
Meth is a common abbreviation of methamphetamine - a dangerous and deadly illegal drug. The substance is highly addictive, and concocting it risks explosions and fires.
Recent statistics reveal meth lab seizures increased nationwide last year, with Missouri topping the list with 2,096.
Do Missouri's numbers reflect a greater problem or more aggressive enforcement?
Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Tim Hull attributes the high numbers to energetic enforcement. He cites state and local partnerships to prevent meth manufacturers from acquiring the necessary precursor ingredients. In addition, state and local programs focus on the cleanup of meth labs and disposal of hazardous byproducts.
We commend those efforts, but we believe a dual strategy is necessary. Meth manufacturing and usage is subject to the basic business principle of supply and demand. Law enforcement officials are attacking the supply side. The challenge they face is daunting. A meth lab can be as simple and as mobile as a jug used in the increasingly popular "shake and bake" method. Meth precursor ingredients largely are common household products. A required ingredient is pseudoephedrine, found in some over-the-counter cold medicines. Lawmakers and law enforcement both have focused on preventing pseudoephedrine from being diverted to meth manufacturing.
Curbing demand is a similarly daunting challenge. Because meth can be made, in addition to being imported, it is readily available. And, it is highly addictive.
We must educate people, particularly young people, about the dangers associated with meth use.
Those consequences, according to the American Council for Drug Education, are varied and severe. They include: nausea, sleeplessness, depression, anxiety, paranoia, panic, psychosis and permanent brain damage.
Getting hooked on those consequences each day is no way to live.