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Iowa is losing the war against meth

New figures remind us prohibition doesn't work

Law enforcement officials have led a major crackdown on meth labs in recent years, yet Iowans continue to struggle with meth abuse, according to the state government’s 2018 drug policy report.

The number of meth lab busts in Iowa has plummeted since the state passed new restrictions in 2005 — from 1,500 meth labs in 2004, to just 33 in the most recent report. Still, other metrics for meth use continue to rise, some reaching record levels. The portion of drug treatment patients whose primary substance is meth surged to an all-time high of 20 percent, according to the state report.

Officials with the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy say the new meth is “produced and distributed by Mexican drug cartels and their agents.”

These figures remind us what students of history already know — prohibition doesn’t work.

Meth is a terrible drug, but government’s attempts to eliminate it often lead to even worse outcomes. Rather than diminish substance abuse, the war on drugs has simply pushed users into dark markets which often have violent activity and even more dangerous drug mixtures.

However, the prohibitionists did get one thing correct in their report.

“We cannot escape the reality that some Iowans still engage in dangerous substance abuse behaviors,” they wrote.

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