Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only ask one time of year, but when we do, we mean it. Without your support we can’t continue to bring you the very best material, day-in and day-out. CounterPunch is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. Help make sure it stays that way.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Danger of Methamphetime Registries

by ANTHONY PAPA

Need to know where your neighborhood meth dealer lives? I think not. But the current trend in law enforcement thinks so. Six states including New York are considering joining Tennessee, Illinois, Montana and Minnesota in enacting a methamphetamine offender registry. These registries will publicly display information about methamphetamine users, makers and dealers that have been convicted of their crimes. In validating their clarion call for registries, law enforcement officials across the country have complained that the toxic materials found from clandestine meth labs have poisoned communities and destroyed property.

The registry trend follows the governmental implementation of making methamphetamine trafficking and abuse a high priority problem. When high priority is established, desperate measures are enacted that sometimes invade the civil liberties of citizens that seem to have nothing to do with the drug war.

The idea of using a data base that details the crimes of offenders is not new. Sex offenders have been under the keen eye of the public through on line registries in all 50 states for some time now. Not too many people would argue against their use in this manner. After all, we must protect our children from predators. But, the question I ask is do we need the same type of protection in the prohibition of methamphetamine?

In about 2004, methamphetamine jumped into the national consciousness as the latest U.S. “drug epidemic.” With covers stories that depicted methamphetamine as “America’s Most Dangerous Drug”, alarmist media coverage and draconian political responses to the dangers of methamphetamine have been reminiscent of the public reaction to crack cocaine in the 1980s.

At the same time the implementation of the federal governments Meth/Drug Hot Spots program was born. It offered local and state agencies almost 400 million dollars to find and eradicate meth labs to end the threat of the meth drug epidemic. Through financial incentives, policing policies were increased to take advantage of the cash cow the federal government had created, all in the name of stopping the epidemic.

However recent studies by several policy organizations like the Sentencing Project questioned the existence this epidemic and have shown that reality contradicts many of the myths perpetuated by the media. Their findings concluded that methamphetamine is actually one of the rarest of illegal drugs used, with its use declining among youth, stabilizing among adults and demonstrating no increase in first-time users. Furthermore, even governmental data disputes the existence of an epidemic.

The war on drugs has created convenient vehicles of looking tough on crime while hiding being the shield of public safety. But that shield gets worn out when our basic rights are curtailed through its use. For example, since the recent enactment of federal laws in several states, cold sufferers now have to jump through ridiculous hoops to purchase what were originally over-the-counter medications. You now must show photo ID and sign a log in order to purchase cold and allergy medicines containing pseuudoephedrine, a drug that can be used to manufacture methamphetamine. There are an estimated 34 different chemicals that can be derived from materials like lighter fluid, road flares and matches. Do we create similar laws to purchase them?

We need to put resources in educating the public about the use of methamphetamine, not creating a public registry. It would be used only as another law enforcement tool that will lead to the further restriction and erosion of our civil liberties. It might not be apparent now, but neither was our right to not be hassled to buy cold medicine before the law changed.

ANTHONY PAPA is the author of 15 Years to Life: How I Painted My Way to Freedom and Communications Specialist for Drug Policy Alliance. He can be reached at: anthonypapa123@yahoo.com

 

 

Anthony Papa is the Manager of Media and Artist Relations for the Drug Policy Alliance and the author of This Side of Freedom: Life After Lockdown.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
James McEnteer
Eugene, Oregon and the Rising Cost of Cool
Norman Pollack
The Great Debate: Proto-Fascism vs. the Real Thing
Michael Winship
The Tracks of John Boehner’s Tears
John Steppling
Fear Level Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?
James Russell
Beyond Debate: Interview Styles of the Rich and Famous
September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
David Swanson
Turn the Pentagon into a Hospital
Ralph Nader
Are You Ready for Democracy?
Chris Martenson
Hell to Pay
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Debate Night: Undecided is Everything, Advantage Trump
Frank X Murphy
Power & Struggle: the Detroit Literacy Case
Chris Knight
The Tom and Noam Show: a Review of Tom Wolfe’s “The Kingdom of Speech”
Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail