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What is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine, also known as "meth," "speed," "crank," or "ice," is a powerful and highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system. Meth is a synthetic drug produced or sold as pills, capsules, or powder that can be smoked, snorted, injected, or swallowed.

As a neurotoxin, meth damages the nervous system. Its use can cause dependence and addiction, psychosis, stroke, dangerously high body temperature, and cardiac arrhythmia. Withdrawal often results in severe depression and paranoia.

Methamphetamine Production

Methamphetamine has been made in Canada and the United States, principally from bulk quantities of chemicals in so-called "super labs." Methamphetamine production, however, has changed significantly and law enforcement authorities have seen an increase in the number of small labs where meth cooks use "recipes," often found online, to create small amounts of the drug from legitimate household products.

While these small homemade labs produce a tiny fraction of the methamphetamine a "super lab" may produce, they present a huge danger to the communities in which they operate because toxic, hazardous, and explosive chemicals are possible by-products of the production process.

Methamphetamine can be made from commonly available, legitimate household products

These small labs can be found in a methamphetamine "cook's" home, in an automobile, or alongside a road. The ingredients used to make methamphetamine are legitimate household materials, usually found at retail stores, such as:

  • Over-the-counter cough, cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine or ephedrine
  • Acetone
  • Rubbing and isopropyl alcohol
  • Iodine
  • Starter fluid (ether)
  • Gas additives (methanol)
  • Drain cleaner (sulphuric acid)
  • Lithium batteries
  • Rock salt
  • Matchbooks (red phosphorus)
  • Lye
  • Paint thinner
  • Aluminum foil
  • Glassware
  • Coffee filters
  • Propane tanks
Retailers are in a unique position to help law enforcement in the fight against methamphetamine, since the small-scale labs use a number of commonly found household products available at drugstores, supermarkets, and other retail outlets. The Meth Watch Program addresses this problem, and gives communities proven and powerful tools to help curb methamphetamine production.

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