Is There a Meth Problem in Texas?

Is There a Meth Problem in Texas?Drugs are a problem nationwide. Heroin, cocaine, meth…they’re addictive, dangerous, and everywhere.  Not only do they pose a threat and danger to those who use the drugs, but they also create trouble for others. The drug trafficking involved with getting the drugs into Texas, and the creation of more drugs in dens and basements causes an increase of violent crime. Meth also creates a problem for our children, being yet one more dangerous temptation for them to deal with.

In Texas, methamphetamine is the top drug threat reported by the DEA, and has increased in usage in the past three years – It’s no wonder, since COVID-19 has more people stuck in situations that have them seeking out these drugs. And only three years earlier, “an estimated 964,000 people aged 12 or older (about 0.4 percent of the population) had a methamphetamine use disorder in 2017—that is, they reported clinically significant impairment, including health problems, disability, and failure to meet responsibilities at work, school, or home as a result of their drug use.”

What are methamphetamines?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines methamphetamine (or meth) as “a powerful, highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It takes the form of a white, odorless, bitter-tasting crystalline powder that easily dissolves in water or alcohol.” Meth was developed from its parent drug amphetamine in the early 1900s, and it was first used as a decongestant.

Meth, like amphetamines, is a stimulant, therefore making you talkative and active while decreasing your appetite. Along with these effects is the general feeling of euphoria and well-being. Meth, however, is different from amphetamines in that a higher concentration of the stimulant makes its way to the brain. Therefore, methamphetamines have a more potent effect on the user; and while the effects last longer, it causes more damage to the body and brain.

What are the penalties for using or producing meth?

The penalties for having or producing meth vary widely depending whether the crime is state or federal, the amount in your possession, whether you’re a user or a manufacturer, and whether you’ve harmed someone else during the process. For instance, if you have less than a gram of meth on you, then you may be charged for a jail felony and have to serve a 180 day to two-year jail sentence if convicted.

But if you’re convicted of carrying 400 grams or more, the penalties are far worse, with a possible fine of $100,000 and a term of 10 to 99 years in prison. “ If another person dies or suffers serious bodily injury, the minimum sentence is 20 years. The fine, depending on the circumstances, can run between 10 million and 50 million dollars.

Why are penalties so strict for meth?

Meth is more than just an issue for the user, but for our society altogether. Many meth users end up with severe health conditions. Those who manufacture meth can end up with injuries like severe burns. It’s not uncommon that meth dens and labs are often protected by guard dogs trained to attack strangers, or are booby-trapped with explosives. This can put people in danger if they stumble upon these places accidentally. These bases are not always located somewhere remote, but can be in basements or apartments or homes right in town, and if something goes awry in the manufacturing process, it can lead to fires or explosions that could put the whole community in danger, too. So there are very good reasons to be wary of meth.

But these are only hypotheticals. Exploding meth labs make for good TV, but they really aren’t that common – not anymore. The crux of the severity of charges is that experts claim that meth use creates more crime. It is inexpensive to produce and transport, and relatively inexpensive to purchase. Because it is so highly addictive – and incredibly damaging – law enforcement says users may commit other crimes (like identity theft or robbery) to fund their habit, and may engage in acts of violence if they are high. As such, they tend to drop the hammer on meth users and sellers, much the way they did with crack cocaine 30 years ago.

If we have learned anything, though, it is that the “war on crack” was doomed from the start, and the new war on meth will be equally useless. Meth addiction occurs fast, and it alters the brain chemistry. The effects, however, can be slow; unlike opioids which can lead to an overdose instantly, meth takes time to destroy a body. Law enforcement is pushing especially harsh penalties in the hopes of curbing use and sales, but that is not the way to address the problem. People addicted to meth need medical intervention – not only for their bodies, but for their mental health. If ever there was a time to increase the power of drug courts, this is that time. But instead, law enforcement is trying to punish people as much as they can, rather than get them the help they so desperately need.

The fines and punishment for this drug are serious. Meth is a highly addictive and dangerous drug with powerful effects. Texas has a meth problem, but the reaction has been swift and punitive. This is why, if you are charged with possession or manufacture of methamphetamine, then you need good, strong representation from an experienced drug charge defense attorney. Contact Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm today at (254) 276-3658. Our offices are located in Killeen and Copperas Cove in Central Texas. Feel free to fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.