Last week Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) reintroduced a bill aimed at combating a new drug menace that, as far as anyone can tell, does not actually exist: candy-flavored meth.
The Saving Kids from Dangerous Drugs Act, a.k.a. "the candy-flavored meth bill," would automatically double penalties for anyone who "manufactures, creates, distributes, or possesses with intent to distribute a controlled substance that is flavored, colored, packaged or otherwise altered in a way that is designed to make it more appealing to a person under 21 years of age, or who attempts or conspires to do so." Grassley explains why this legislation is urgently needed:It's disturbing that drug dealers are trying to lure teens and young kids by flavoring drugs to taste like candy. This latest craze needs to be dealt with before it's too late....The legislation that Senator Feinstein and I have introduced should make drug dealers think twice about selling candy flavored drugs to our kids.The only problem with this explanation is that the fiendish pushers luring children into a lifetime of addiction with strawberry-flavored speed appear to be little more than figments of Grassley and Feinstein's drug-fevered imaginations. To be fair, a lot of people have imagined these monsters, but none of them has produced a real-life specimen. In a June 2007 story, "Meth Ado About Nothing?," for the drug policy site Join Together, Bob Curley reported:
Both the DEA and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy told Join Together that they have not been able to identify a single confirmed seizure of flavored meth....Also check out Curley's sidebar, in which he asks a question that apparently never occurred to Grassley, Feinstein, and other politicians plagued by candy-colored nightmares: "Does 'Flavored Meth' Even Make Sense?" If Grassley and Feinstein had simply paid a visit to Snopes.com, they could have saved their staffs the trouble of writing this stupid bill. But as the Drug War Chronicle notes, they are proceeding "as if the debunking of the myth had never occurred." The Chronicle worries that their broadly worded legislation against a phantom menace could be used to arbitrarily increase the penalties of people who make or sell drugs that are deemed to be kid-targeted because of bright colors, cartoons, or whimsical names.
Experts say that there's a real possibility that local police are confusing colored meth—which is relatively common—with flavored meth. Tom McNamara, a meth trainer and special-projects coordinator for the Southern Illinois Drug Task Force Group, told Join Together that meth made from Sudafed or some generic versions of the drug will have a light-pink color because of the dye used in the pills. Moreover, he said, meth made from anhydrous ammonia treated with GloTell—a chemical marker designed to discourage thefts—will be bright pink. The drug also can appear greenish or blue.
"We've had that forever," said McNamara of colored meth, whereas his inquiries about flavored meth have yielded nothing.
January 26, 2009
By Jacob Sullum