MARQUETTE — Meth has become more prevalent across the Upper Peninsula over the past few years.
Last year the Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team, or UPSET, responded to 51 meth labs. There were also 59 meth cases in Marquette County that were brought to court in 2014 compared to 2009’s three cases. The drastic jump is the result of the ‘One Pot Method.’
“People went from buying meth from someone who manufactures it to being addicted to meth and manufacturing it on their own or manufacturing it with other people,” said Marquette county Prosecutor Matt Wiese. “That’s typically what we see now.”
It’s cheap and easily made with household items like fuel, fertilizers, and batteries, but the key ingredient is ephedrine commonly found in cold medicines. Currently the state is using tracking logs for the amounts of Sudafed being purchased at pharmacies. It hasn’t reduced meth usage, but it’s made it easier to investigate.
“We do know that the states that have made ephedrine a prescription drug they’ve had a drastic drop off in methamphetamine manufacture,” said Wiese. “That’s what we’ve asked the legislature to do. They didn’t do it, we’ll go back and ask them again.”
While we wait for stricter regulations on ephedrine, meth labs are costing thousands to clean up. UPSET does receive some federal funding. Otherwise site could cost up to $12,000 for private companies to clean up.
“By having UPSET around that number probably gets knocked down to a quarter, and the unfortunate part is half way through the year that grant is going to run out,” said Det. Lt. Tim Scholander of UPSET. “Then, it’s going to fall back on UPSET or it’s going to fall back onto the agencies that put an officer on UPSET.”
The grant pays for officers overtime, but funding ruins out half way through the year. It costs $180,000 to operate UPSET and around $40,000 to clean up meth sites per year.