The multimillion-dollar superlab of "Breaking Bad" may be gone, but thousands of meth labs around the country remain. The midwestern states tend to see the most incidents involving meth labs, and Missouri outranks all others with 1,825 busts and seizures in 2012, according to a Government Accountability Office analysis of Drug Enforcement Administration data.
Moreover, an increasingly popular crude cooking method known as "shake and bake" has put meth production in addicts' hands, eliminating the need for an RV or even chemistry know-how.
It takes about 15 minutes to "shake and bake" a batch of meth in a plastic bottle using ingredients you may already have lying around the house. Sometimes the bottle explodes, badly burning the often uninsured meth cook and anyone else in the line of fire.
Meth use cost the U.S. economy around $23.4 billion in 2005, according to a RAND Corporation study. While incidents involving meth labs have tapered somewhat in recent years, thanks to the rise of "shake and bake" hospitals have noticed an uptick in meth burn cases. It costs around $230,000 to treat a meth lab burn victim, Mother Jones reported. The most common age of these victims: under 4 years old.
Oregon and Mississippi have figured out how to curb these accidents by making the key meth ingredient pseudoephedrine prescription-only. Other states keep the common cold medicine behind the counter under a 2006 federal law, but when Oregon and Mississippi implemented prescription legislation, meth lab incidents immediately plummeted. Dozens of other states have tried to follow their lead, but the pharmaceutical industry isn't having it.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) wanted to make Oregon's success story a national reality, announcing legislation in 2010 for federal prescription regulation of pseudoephedrine. But according to Mother Jones, he never introduced the bill in Congress, in part because of "heavy industry spending."
This story appears in Issue 72 of our weekly iPad magazine, Huffington, available Friday, Oct. 25 in the iTunes App store.