Meth Labs

Clandestine Drug Labs

Methamphetamine, or meth for short, is a synthetic drug in the amphetamine family of drugs. It is a Central Nervous System (CNS) stimulant that can be taken in a variety of ways, including orally or by smoking, inhaling, or injecting. Meth is extremely addictive and treatment can be difficult, complicated by physical changes to the body as well as mental illness.

Although the past decade has seen a dramatic increase in the use of meth across Minnesota, legislation passed in 2005 requiring much tighter control and greatly limited access to over-the-counter medicines containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine (essential for meth manufacturing) has had a significant impact on meth production statewide. As a result, most meth in the state is imported, though smaller meth labs continue to be an issue. Reported meth-related events in the state have dropped from a high of more than 500 in 2003 to 73 in 2006.

Manufacturing Process Factors

In addition to the dangers posed directly by meth itself, the manufacturing process ("cooking") also creates harmful byproducts that can remain as a residue in facilities where the meth is made. Walls, floors, ceilings, carpets, furniture, household goods, clothing and virtually anything else inside a "meth house" can be contaminated, some of which is impossible to clean and must be destroyed or disposed of.

In some cases, entire structures are demolished because they cannot be properly decontaminated. Houses and other facilities that have been used for meth production are permanently tagged on the title as a meth site, regardless of who owns the property. Each meth lab, spill or dump is a potential hazardous waste site, requiring assessment and remediation by experienced and qualified personnel.

Other Dangers Associated With Meth

In addition to the dangers described above, meth use is associated with:

  • Increased crime, particularly property crimes, personal violence and child abuse and endangerment
  • Increased demand for medical and social services, including, foster- and short-term care, drug and psychiatric treatment and various public health services
  • Increased demands on public safety, including jails and jail services, fire departments and law enforcement agencies
  • Additional strain on educators, parents and communities

Within our jurisdiction, Brown and Nicollet counties have ordinances regarding the cleanup of clandestine drug lab sites. You can access the Brown County ordinance here and the Nicollet County ordinance here. It is the responsibility of this office to determine when a clandestine drug lab site is a public health hazard and, accordingly, to ensure that it is properly cleaned up by a qualified remediation contractor.