Methamphetamine (Meth) in the United States

The production and use of methamphetamine is a serious threat to the health and safety of our communities. Meth is an addictive stimulant drug that strongly activates certain systems in the brain and has a high potential for abuse. Most of the methamphetamine abused in this country comes from foreign or domestic superlabs, although it can also be made in small, illegal laboratories, where its production endangers the people in the labs, neighbors, and the environment.

The chemicals or ingredients needed to manufacture methamphetamine are often illegally diverted from legitimate sources. Some of these precursor chemicals include pseudoephedrine (contained in over-the-counter cold medicines), anhydrous ammonia (used primarily as an agricultural fertilizer and industrial refrigerant), and red phosphorus (used in matches).

Methamphetamine comes in more than one form – it can be smoked, snorted, injected, or orally ingested, though smoking has become more common recently. Smoking leads to very fast intake into the brain, which multiplies a user’s potentional for developing a substance use disoder and other health implications.

Methamphetamine in relation to Crime and Race

Methamphetamine is included in the Encyclopedia of Race and Crime (1), beginning with: Methamphetamine is a drug that works as a stimulant; it causes neurotransmitters to release dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephirine. This drug has a relatively short history compared to some other drugs. Yet in this short time, methamphetamine has had a paralyzing impact on human lives, public safety, and the American economy. Methamphetamine has a sordid history in terms of its regulation and treatment, and some researchers assert that differences in the approach to methamphetamine reflect differences in racial/ethnic patterns of drug use. This section reviews the impact of methamphetamine on individuals and society, describes regional patterns of methamphetamine use and manufacture, and examines differences in social and legal responses to methamphetamine and crack cocaine. In terms of how methamphetamine is a societal problem, many indicators exist. For example, according to the National Association of Counties, 40% of out-of-home placements of children were due to methamphetamine in 2005 alone.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy Initiatives

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has several initiatives focused on addressing methamphetamine abuse:

  • National Methamphetamine & Pharmaceuticals Initiative: Part of the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s national High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program, the National Methamphetamine & Pharmaceuticals Initiative (NMPI) is an initiative funded through the Southwest Border HIDTA California Region. Focused on reducing the availability of methamphetamine and its precursor chemicals throughout the United States, this national strategy includes intelligence sharing and training as key components. The National Methamphetamine & Pharmaceuticals Initiative also seeks to reduce pharmaceutical drug crimes by utilizing best practices for investigations and intelligence collection and analysis.
  • Anti-Meth Campaign: Since 2007, the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign has supported a national Anti-Meth Campaign through TV, radio, print, and online anti-meth advertising in areas of the country hardest hit by meth. The anti-meth messages are aimed at young adults (ages 18-34), as national survey data indicate that young adults, with an average age of first use of meth of approximately 21 years, are far more likely to use meth than teens or any other age group. The advertising and outreach has included messages that focus on preventing meth use and raising awareness about the benefits of treatment, and encouraging friends and family of meth users to seek treatment for their friend or loved one. The Campaign makes its anti-meth ads available as free resources for community organizations to use in their local markets.
  • Controlling Precursor Chemical: Methamphetamine is often produced using chemicals and other products that are illegally diverted from legitimate sources. Some of the precursor chemicals needed to manufacture meth include pseudoephedrine (contained in over the counter cold medicines), anhydrous ammonia (used primarily as an agricultural fertilizer and industrial refrigerant), and red phosphorus (used in matches). Learn what the Office of National Drug Control Policy is doing to help control precursor chemicals.

Methamphetamine Lab Clean-Up in the Criminal Justice System

This section covers the topics below related with Methamphetamine Lab Clean-Up :


Drug Law Enforcement


Methamphetamine in the Criminal Justice System



Notes and References

  1. Entry about Methamphetamine in the Encyclopedia of Race and Crime

See Also

  • Drugs
  • Drug Law Enforcement

Methamphetamine: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Methamphetamine. This part provides references, in relation to Methamphetamine, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Methamphetamine by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Methamphetamine and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Methamphetamine or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Methamphetamine and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Methamphetamine. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Methamphetamine should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Methamphetamine when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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