A new report finds that the massive media hype about the horrible meth epidemic was exactly that, mostly hyperbole. This is, in fact, a repeat from every other vastly exaggerated drug crisis over the last hundred years, from reefer madness to crack babies.
The rise in methamphetamine use has provoked a barrage of misinformation and reckless policies, such as mandatory minimum sentences, increased penalties for minor offenders and major restrictions against certain medicines.
This new report, titled Methamphetamine: Fact vs. Fiction and Lessons from the Crack Hysteria, reveals the extreme stigmatization of users and dangerous policy responses that are reminiscent of the crack hysteria in the 1980s and 1990s, which led to grossly misguided laws that accelerated mass incarceration in the United States.
The report recommends that national and international policymakers review laws that harshly punish methamphetamine possession or use, invest in treatment rather than punishment, restudy the restriction of access to amphetamines for legitimate medical purposes, and stop supporting wasteful and ineffective campaigns of misinformation on methamphetamine use.
This history should have taught us by now that when the government starts hyping the latest drug “crisis” or “epidemic” — OMG! Everyone’s using ecstasy! Crack! Meth! Krokodil! — it’s almost certainly being vastly overblown to justify the latest power grab.