CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The number of reported methamphetamine labs in West Virginia has jumped more than 400 percent since 2008 as the drug has become easier to manufacture.
In 2012, 271 meth labs were reported in the state, up from 50 in 2008, said Brandon Lewis, coordinator of the state’s Clandestine Drug Lab Remediation Program.
The increase has been steady. In 2009, 109 meth labs were reported. The number rose to 140 in 2010 and to 171 in 2011. Forty labs have been reported since the beginning of 2013.
“It’s the ease of manufacturing now,” Lewis told WSAZ-TV.
He said the process once took days. Now, it takes about an hour to manufacture meth.
Many of the cases that Lewis sees involve repeat offenders.
“I see a lot of names that I see today that I saw several years ago,” Lewis said. “They need more enforcement maybe to keep people behind bars longer.”
A 2012 law aimed at combating methamphetamine limits sales of medicines containing pseudoephedrine, which can be used to make the drug. These products are only available from behind the counter, and the law bars an individual from buying more than 3.6 grams per day, 7.2 grams per month and 48 grams per year. The caps do not apply to prescribed medicines.
Lewis said requiring a prescription for pseudoephedrine would not be effective.
“If we had laws requiring a prescription for it, they would just go over to another state that doesn’t have that,” Lewis said.
West Virginia State Police Sgt. Michael Baylous said legislation can only go so far.
“This is a much deeper problem,” Baylous said. “The root of all of this involves morality.”