The triple homicide in the small eastern Oregon town Elgin, apparently a spinoff effect of the trade in methamphetamines, has brought a temporary spotlight back to the meth trade and what Oregon has been doing, or trying to do, about it. A couple of points of that light merit a little more attention.
In 2005 Oregon took a highly-publicized step in restricting purchases of many cold medicines, at least those that use pseudoephedrine, because it has been a key ingredient in meth production. The new law appears to have had a significant effect: The number of arrests for meth production in Oregon have dropped drastically (95 percent by one estimate). That would be the good news.
The bad news is that usage doesn't seem to have dropped. And beyond that, aspects of the trade are getting deadlier. From today's Oregonian perspective on the Elgin situation:
"The downside is addicts switched from locally made meth powder to an even more addictive and potent form from Mexico, Roberts said. And that process may have funneled more of the trade to the Hermiston 'pound' dealers. 'Are they making more money now?' Gibson, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking program director, asked rhetorically. 'Obviously there is a lot of money in the drug trade. The price is up.'"