Explore the complex history of methamphetamine in Missouri

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(Missouri News Service – Farah Siddiqi) – Missouri may once have been known as the “meth-lab capital of the country,” but a five-part podcast uncovers its true history.

Home Cooked: A Fifty-Year History of Meth in America” explores the relationship between methamphetamine use and broader drug policies, as well as social and cultural ramifications.

Olivia Weeks, a reporter with The Daily Yonder who produced and hosts the podcast, stated that meth use was once associated with rural areas, but this assumption is inaccurate. Weeks mentioned that Missouri aggressively addressed its meth-lab reputation.

“They enforced strict policies on their meth-lab issues, achieving high lab bust numbers, which have now essentially vanished,” she noted. “However, the rest of the country is now confronting this issue that was once associated with Missouri.”

In the podcast, she explains that most of the methamphetamine entering the United States arrives through commercial points of entry, concealed within legal shipping containers, rather than being smuggled across the border by individuals.

Weeks argued that the real dangers of meth partly stem from its illegal status. She pointed out that even when it was a prescription drug in the 1950s and ’60s, there was illegal usage—however, at least it was manufactured by pharmaceutical companies. Once methamphetamine became illegal, the lack of oversight over its production led to environmental damage and hazardous chemical processes in home labs.

“The main danger of using methamphetamine is that you don’t know what’s in it,” she explained, “and you don’t know what dose you’re taking.”

She acknowledged the pharmaceutical industry’s history of exploiting addictive drugs and cautioned against simple solutions such as decriminalizing or legalizing meth use. Instead, her research has led her to support harm-reduction strategies that ensure user safety.

(This story was produced with original reporting by Olivia Weeks )

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