Or by the horrifying number of children found by police busting the clandestine meth labs in bedrooms, basements and backyards throughout Indiana. In 2012 alone, there were 372 of them, including the 2-year-old son of that defendant in the court of appeals case. Many of those children tested positive for meth, having been exposed to it just by breathing in the chemical fumes produced when their caretakers were cooking up the drug.
Or we could measure it by the countless police reports that frighteningly mirror the fictional meth-maker Walter White on TV’s “Breaking Bad.” In that court of appeals case, police who found that 2-year-old also discovered a laptop computer which showed the last Internet searches made on it before the bust: “how to manufacture methamphetamine” and “how to silently kill someone.”
Almost every year since 2005, the Indiana General Assembly has debated legislation aimed at restricting access to the cold medicines that contain meth’s primary precursor. And each time it passes a new law tightening those restrictions, legislators hail it as the right fix.
This year is no different: They rejected a measure favored by the Indiana State Police and mayors of the most scourge-ravaged communities that would have returned pseudoephedrine to its long-ago controlled status — requiring a doctor’s prescription to buy it. They approved a bill, favored by cold-medicine makers and many legitimate users, that instead further limits the amount of pseudoephedrine a consumer can buy over the counter to what amounts to about an eight-month supply.
I’m allergy-suffering, legitimate user of pseudoephedrine and go nowhere without it, but I’m willing to risk my eight-month supply on a sure bet: Absent some drastic action by the General Assembly, I’ll be reading and writing about clandestine meth labs and 2-year-olds in harm’s way for years to come.