In 1991, the Division of Narcotics Enforcement predicted a dramatic rise in methamphetamine trafficking and usage; unfortunately, this prediction has subsequently been borne out. Methamphetamine continues to replace cocaine as the "drug of choice" for many of Iowa's illicit drug users. The following graph illustrates the trend in seizures of cocaine and methamphetamine by the Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement from 2006 - 2010, in terms of the number of grams of each substance seized annually.
Methamphetamine has a luring effect of 8-12 hour highs, is often readily obtainable, and gives the illusion of more productive hours in the day without rest. However, the reality of methamphetamine is its extreme psychological and physical addiction, as well as an extreme depletion of necessary chemicals in the brain, which pushes the user into paranoia, physical degeneration and violence. The degenerative effects may be long lasting or even permanent.
In addition to its effects on users and those who come into contact with them, methamphetamine has other unwelcome side effects. Its production in clandestine laboratories, which has become widespread in Iowa and throughout the Midwest, introduces the potential of fires or explosions from the volatile mixture of chemicals used in methamphetamine production. Clandestine laboratories also leave behind environmental residues which require care and substantial resources to abate. The environmental threat from illicit methamphetamine production to Iowa's agricultural areas is significant.
Methamphetamine is far from accounting for the total picture of trafficking in or use of illicit substances in Iowa. A variety of illicit drugs show up to one degree or another in narcotics investigations in Iowa, including marijuana, of which a large amount continues to be confiscated each year, LSD, and heroin. However, for quite a few years cocaine and methamphetamine appear to have dominated illicit drug trafficking and use in Iowa.
Two important indicators of the nature of drug trafficking are the price of the drugs being sold and consumed and the purity of those drugs. With some yearly variations apparent, street prices of methamphetamine have steadily risen over the past four years. Street prices of cocaine steadily declined until 2008, when they began to rise.
It is clear that trafficking in illicit drugs, and especially methamphetamines, continues to be a serious problem in Iowa. Given characteristics of methamphetamines such as that it is relatively easy to manufacture with readily available ingredients and that its manufacture results in leaving hazardous environmental residues, efforts to combat its manufacture, distribution, sale, and use are likely to continue to occupy a major place in Iowa’s effort to stem trafficking and use of illicit drugs.
There are indicators now that show that heroin is making a comeback. Kansas City, Missouri, has seen a dramatic increase in heroin use. Designer drugs, LSD and PCP, are not showing an increase.
Methamphetamine still remains to be the major drug of choice in Iowa. This is due to the ease in the manufacturing of the drug and complex drug cartels that have flooded the market.
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