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County to hold meth workshop

Essex County Board of Supervisors

Essex County Board of Supervisors Photo by Keith Lobdell.

— Methamphetamine use is apparently on the rise in Essex County and is no longer unavoidable, District Attorney Kristy Sprague told the Board of Supervisors last month.

“A lot of people don’t think there’s meth here,” she said. “It’s here and we just have to know what to look for.”

To assist the county’s 18 supervisors in identifying, reporting and squashing use of the drug in their towns, the DA’s office will hold a two-hour training workshop on Monday, Feb. 24 at the Public Safety Building in Lewis.

Essex County Sheriff Richard Cutting said the county’s Narcotics Task Force is seeing more signals of the, “single pot method,” of production in the county.

“We’ve seen a rise of this homemade, fairly simple to make procedure,” he said. “We don’t see a lot being produced for sale — it’s made for home use: inexpensive, made right at home and creates a very, very extremely addicting product, an insidiously addictive drug.”

Also known as, “shake and bake,” this method of producing “crank” essentially involves mixing store-bought chemicals together in a two-liter plastic soda bottle.

A single hit, said Cutting, can keep users going for days at a time.

A synthetic substance closely related to the FDA-regulated amphetamines, meth is a strong stimulant and is mainly manufactured in clandestine laboratories. It’s used primarily by working class folks and has steadily grown in popularity since emerging from its midwestern stronghold in the 1980s.

“This is not something that you’re going to buy,” Cutting said, explaining that it’s relatively cheap to make from over-the-counter ingredients like batteries and cleaning supplies.

The relatively simple manufacturing process means that the drug can easily be concocted by self-styled amateur chemists, a process prone to dangerous mishaps from the volatile chemicals and the alchemists’ disregard for safety procedures.

A 2013 report by the Government Accountability Office showed the number of clandestine meth incidents — when secret manufacturing operations resulted in injuries or structure fires — more than doubled in 2010 to some 15,000 after an all-time low of about 7,000.

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