Methamphetamine History

Methamphetamine had been in use for decades before reaching its current form. The drug has a long and storied history of use, both legitimate and illicit, and amphetamines are present in some form in many prescription and over-the-counter drugs. While many of us are only familiar with the current form of methamphetamine, known as “crystal meth” or “glass”, there is a lot more to the drug that many people don’t know about. If you’ve been charged with a methamphetamine crime, contact our drug defense lawyers for a free case evaluation.

Methamphetamine’s Development

Amphetamine was first created in Germany in 1887, and its methamphetamine successor was developed in Japan in 1919. This newer form of amphetamine was preferred for its potency; it was much more powerful than its predecessor. The crystals were soluble in water, which was a bonus since it allowed for easy injection. The drug was used by troops in all sides during World War II, because its use allowed them to stay alert during active duty and stay awake for much longer periods of time. The Japanese government gave kamikaze pilots extra-high doses before their suicide flights, presumably to keep them alert and ease any potential pain or anxiety.

One of the Earliest “Performance Enhancers”

Not long after the war, methamphetamine use gained popularity among college students, long-distance truckers, and athletes to improve performance. In the 1950s, it was used as a diet aid, and in the 1960s, abuse as a recreational drug started to become a problem. Since then, the commonly used term “meth” has been used to refer to the smoked or snorted crystal methamphetamine which is highly addictive, illegal, and potentially very harmful.

The Controlled Substances Act

Methamphetamine is a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it has high toxicity levels, is very dangerous if abused, and is very addictive. The Controlled Substances Act was enacted to give the U.S. government authority to classify and control the administration, importation, and manufacture of addictive, toxic, or other dangerous substances, including drugs and non-pharmaceutical substances. The scheduling of the drug classes indicates the level of control the FDA, DEA, and other governmental agencies have over a substance. Schedule II substances such as methamphetamine are highly controlled and generally illegal with the exception of some legitimate medical and research uses.

Legitimate Uses of Methamphetamine

Methamphetamine is currently manufactured for pharmaceutical use under the trade name Desoxyn, which is manufactured by Ovation Pharmaceuticals. It is highly unpopular among prescribing physicians, however, because of the stigma and dangers attached to using methamphetamine, one concern being its highly addictive nature.
However, amphetamines as a whole have some usefulness in the medical world. Different forms of amphetamines are used to treat overweight, ADD and ADHD, and narcolepsy. These legally prescribed forms of amphetamines differ from crystal meth or legal methamphetamine in the form of Desoxyn, however, and are generally approached as a last-resort drug because of their high toxicity and addictive nature. In addition to being habit-forming, amphetamines can cause headaches, anxiety, sleeplessness, and mental disorders. In some patients, the use of amphetamines may be successfully used to treat illness, but the prescriber must be very cautious and judicious in their use.

Legislation of Methamphetamine

Different states have different legislation for methamphetamine use and distribution, but the Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA, is the current leading federal authority on its control. However, a lengthy legislative history surrounds amphetamine use. Methamphetamine has become illegal over the past few decades, with the small exception made for Desoxyn. Some critical legislation involving methamphetamine include: control of pseudoephedrine and other components of meth, harsher punishments for distributors, and other initiatives.

Component control, such as controlling pseudoephedrine, which is a precursor to methamphetamine, has helped control its manufacture. The substance is found in some cold and allergy medications and is tightly controlled so that buyers cannot purchase more than a certain amount at once, and repeated purchases might elicit a notification to the DEA. Many cold medicine manufacturers have stopped using pseudoephedrine at all. Another legislation has involved the National Methamphetamine & Pharmaceuticals Initiative (NMPI), which focuses on the southwest part of the U.S., a common pathway for drug traffickers coming up from Mexico to sell drugs and from cartels. This initiative focuses on precursor control as well as information sharing. Continued legislation, task forces, and other initiatives are currently aimed to help curb the use, manufacture, and distribution of crystal meth in the U.S.