JEFFERSON CITY - On the eve of the Missouri legislature's 1998 legislative session that begins today, the state's governor chose to highlight the "meth monster" as a key issue for lawmakers.
Surrounded by department heads and legislators, Carnahan said "the reason meth has become such a major drug problem is because of its attractiveness to the user. It is cheaper than crack, has significantly longer lasting effects and can be taken in a variety of ways."
The Democratic governor called the state a "meth mecca" caused by an "epidemic of evil" and by "agents of death" that cause "death by meth."
Unlike cocaine and other drugs, which concentrate in urban areas, meth is a suburban and rural drug.
"Get rid of your image of polished dope pushers," said Jackson County Prosecuter Claire McCaskill. "These are ma-and-pa conspiracies driven by addiction."
For a $100 investment in some basic household supplies and fuel you can make a $6,000 profit through meth sales. Production usually takes four to six hours and sells for up to $100 per gram.
The governor has proposed $3.4 million in his 1999 budget that would purchase new investigative, crime lab and officer safety equipment. The money would also increase education programs.
Proposed legislation would expand the list of chemicals frequently used in meth production that must be registered with the Missouri Health Department. That means you may have to provide your name when you buy large quantities of these products.
And products used in meth production are common - including everything from dranio to salt. As Senate Pro Tem Bill McKenna said, "I probably have most of these things in my garage."
The governor also has proposed decreasing the amount of meth it would take for a felony prosecution for distribution from 450 grams to 60 grams.
Another bill would establish a "Methamphetamine Cleanup Fund" that would put the Missouri Department of Natural Resources in charge of clean-up and disposal of toxic chemicals resulting from meth labs.
Last year almost 500 labs were discovered in Missouri resulting in about 4,000 meth-related cases.