Sunday, September 04, 2005

Will .0056 grams of meth get you "high"?

Time for a realism check on DEA testilying about drug weights in meth cases.

In Tyler last week, two newlyweds were
sentenced to life in prison for possessing 255 grams of meth. A DEA agent testified at trial that 255 grams was enough to get 45,000 people "high" -- "If those people were lined up side by side, they would form a line from downtown Tyler to Bullard about 17 miles, he said."

Local media dutifully hyped the ridiculous claim. The lede in the local newspaper declared the couple was sentenced "for possessing enough Ice methamphetamine to get half of the population of Smith County high."

But is that true? That would mean that it only took .0056 of a gram -- or just over five one-thousandths of a gram -- for a person to get high on meth. By any measure, that's a big fat lie.

According to Wikipedia, "Methamphetamine is soluble in water; injection users usually dose 0.2 g in 3ml of water through a small needle." Addicts who snort meth or ingest it orally use more of the drug per dosage. But let's assume all of the couple's customers were injection drug users (and that the two addicts didn't intend to use any of the drug themselves.) At .2 grams per dose, that would mean 1,275 people could inject meth once from that stash, hardly enough to stretch from downtown Tyler to Loop 323, much less faraway Bullard.

Meth, like cocaine, is typically sold to individual users in single-gram quantities -- a person might be in possession of several grams of meth and still legitimately be in possession merely for "personal use."
Ingesting orally or snorting the drug, a heavy meth using couple could run through that amount, I'd guess, in a matter of weeks, at most 2-3 months. The idea that 45,000 people could ever have partaken of such a small amount defies all common sense. But if the jury believed such nonsense, no wonder they considered these folks dangerous people who needed to be put away.

The worst part: this appears to be another instance of juries handing down severe punishments to folks who are basically small-timers, dealing mainly to support their rather pathetic addictions:

the woman, who had been using meth for more than four years, said she didn't care about anyone when she was on the drug. She admitted that she lied to police, but said she and Lopez had been clean since their arrests and would never do drugs again. Ms. Lane said she had received Christian counseling and said, crying, that now she has a clear head and is free.

One of the eight women on the jury cried throughout most of Ms. Lane's testimony.

Ms. Lane said she became so addicted to meth that she stopped smoking it and ate it instead. She admitted that meth has destroyed her life.

"I had the devil on my shoulder for a long time," she said.

The parents of the defendants testified that Lopez and Ms. Lane had good, normal childhoods.

This pair only had misdemeanors on their record before now. Public safety would have been best served if they'd gotten drug treatment and rehab, not lifetime incarceration. Why should taxpayers foot the bill for that unnecessary expense?

In this case, the answer appears to be, in part, because the DEA used scare tactics and
grossly inaccurate statistics to mislead a jury about meth, and because prosecutors were willing to suborn those misstatements in order to secure convictions.

See also: Reason Online has more about the DEA overhyping meth statistics, via Meth Mouth. Follwing Reason, Pete at Drug War Rant breaks down more of the DEA's ridiculous meth stats here. Mark Kleiman had a good piece last month offering a reasoned look at America's meth problem, responding to this article in Slate by Jack Shafer.


Anonymous said...

Life in prison might sound severe, unless you consider the number of lives they have destroyed by their drug dealing efforts, caught with 255 grams, how much did the police not catch.... how many teenagers did they sell too, make meth whores.... whatever..... treatment for low level addicts with a gram or two, sure, I am on board, the dealers.... let them rot as those they have made addicts will rot by their actions.... guess that wont get me invited to the ACLU membership :(

Anonymous said...

255 grams is alot, especially if it's "ice", which is normally smoked, you seem to be speaking to powder meth which is snorted or injected, I dont know if the Agents claims are totally correct but ice methamphetamine is much more addictive and destructive than the powder meth of the old days. The claim of the defendant that she ate meth sounds suspicious also because ingestion through the stomach is a much slower method of getting high than any other method of use and she would know better. Study up on the ice thing!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@ anonymous 1: Lots of addicts begin dealing to support the expense of their habit. That doesn't mean the root problem isn't their addiction. Also, prison sentences should only punish behaviors proved at trial, not all the things you guess they might have done that weren't proven, like selling drugs to teenagers, etc. Your comment makes a lot of assumptions without evidence that I doubt you'd want made if the addict were a member of your own family.

@anonymous 2: 255 grams may be "a lot," but by any measure it's not remotely enough to get 45,000 people high. Ice may be more addictive, though IMO a lot of that is hype (everything, after all, is the "new crack," isn't it?), but that doesn't justify at all the obviously bogus, inflated numbers.


Anonymous said...

When meth is taken in tablet form (Desoxyn) the dosage is 5, 10 or 15 mg. That is 0,005 to 0,015 grams.

If you have ice, a pure form of meth, 1 gram is said to be enough for 10 to 25 hits, depending on your meth habit. That gives a much lower number than 45,000

Prof. Wright said...

...unless you consider the number of lives they have destroyed by their drug dealing efforts.

So much for personal freedom and responsibility, eh? You make me sick.

Prof. Wright said...

By the way, I also hate the ACLU.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Roy, you're just a wheelbarrow full of sunshine, aren't you?! ;-)

Chipmunk, thanks for the stats.

Prof. Wright said...

Heh, sorry. I just wanted to make it clear that I'm not some "OMG civil liberties!!!" type.

Anonymous said...

.0056g of meth is a dose that the average 120 pound (ie small) person would take medically... for ADHD or narcolepsy. to get even mildly high 25mg is the minimum (.025g).

as for whether ice is indeed pure or not, it's all a beat-up. most meth in the USA these days going under the label 'ice' is actually at least 50% cut with MSM (a cutting agent which allows the product to be smoked)... but in reality, most meth is more like 5:1 cut which means that the .0056g dose claimed becomes even more absurd, when in actual fact, the minimum dose to get 'high' is between .01g and .02g.

In war, the first casualty is the truth.

Anonymous said...

I was a dope head for a long time (slamer) there is no way that 255 grams would go that far. It took me over 1.5 grams to stay high in a 24 hour period, that was just the first day. I quit dope 2 years ago and very proud of it, tho I still feel this was wrong. People do sell drugs to suport there own habbit. I know I was one of them. I on an average sold about an ounce a day to support my own. Every person I sold to bought a 16th (1.75 grams) or more to support there own habit fore just that day. I would redeliver to them the next day and so on. These people were f--ked by our system.

Anonymous said...

.0056 grams? how do you wheigh that? what would you charge for a bag that size? what size bag would you put it in? can i have your share?

I do meth everyday, and have for a few years now. I just laugh at all the ignorance.... 255grams!? My god! i see that much get bought/sold daily and i don't know a whole lot of people, and this isn't a big town. 70,000 people max. Most of them geriatrics. I'd say a maximum of 1,100 meth users in this town and about 700 use daily. at .0065g per person 255g would last a month! but in fact it would last long enough for those 700 to each "take a bump".

It sucks to have all this misinformation.

Anonymous said...

"it WOULDN"T last long enough for all of them to take a bump" typo

Anonymous said...

i just think that the greater part of the nation thinks that the drug dealers in life to day are some kind of animal. my dad thinks that anyone who pushes dope should be hung by their feet and have their throats slit. I have been convicted of possession of meth not once but twice and not one time have i ever sold to a kid expecting mother or someone i felt didnt need to do any because they were too far out there. I never put a gun to anyones head and made them buy my shit they did it on there own free will. So FUCK ALL WHO SAY THAT THE DEALER IS THE MAIN FACTOR. Start with the low level user and rehabilitate him and so on and there will no longer be a demand for a DEALER.....

Anonymous said...

255 grams is 72 eight balls. at the end of my using days - i was doing an eightball every two days. u do the math.

Anonymous said...

I am the lawyer for for the appeal for this poor young lady sentenced to life on this obvious false and misleading testimony. The sad thing is, even though we were able to get the evidence to establish that this was false testimony by the DEA agent, since none of this evidence was produced at trial, the Tyler Appeals Court refused to listen to th ecidence and affirmed the conviction. Truly a sad situation, guess we will just have to get them on the writ.

Anonymous said...

I personally knew both of these people and I grew up around them. I was meth/ice smoker until I saw how it was ruining my life. I wasn't some Meth Whore or poor white trash girl. I have a great job and a great education.Small towns like Tyler and Longview are now worse than the ghettos of Dallas or Houston because the ignorance and availablity of this drug. Instead of doing something to help the users and dealers they just let them kill each other or throw them in jail. There are people in these towns who have killed people by drunk driving and didn't get such a severe sentence...It sickens me that they got such a severe sentence for a first time conviction. True what they did was wrong and stupid, but if you were a user you'd understand that this drug controls you until you get help.

Anonymous said...

first timers should have been represented better and not let be bullied. Severe penalty..lets take a look at what some people get for several DUI's??, crimes against children, gang activity..NADA!! punishment needs to fit the crime. they were in possession but no violence. Granted, meth use is rampant and bad stuff..but life!! jjeez..harsh. people CAN BE rehabilitated

Unknown said...

FIRST OFF I'VE KNOW THIS GIRL MY WHOLE LIFE!!! Carrie is getting out this month! so you people that think you know need to stop haten! everyone knows that this case was 100% bullshit. she got caught up with the wrong ppl. the system should of had their facts right, instead they took this case & ran & fabricated every lie.


Anonymous said...

I'm a Recoverying meth addict with 5 1/2 years clean, but not so long ago i was caught up in that world, i got a second chance went to treatment and today i have a good job, 4 kids and 2 grandbabies, they deserve a second chance as in prison should be reserved for those who truly deserve it.

Anonymous said...

life in prison for some meth that was probably gonna be sold amongst their circle of friends. Not one crooked banker has been convicted for the scam that has ruined the economy to this day, how many lives did these greedy p.o.s.destroy? how many lost homes,jobs and killed themselves over it? Obama should be locked up for treason against America,why aren't politicians that sell signatures on a bill for a "contribution" to the party being thrown into prison? the justice system is sickening and the war on drugs is almost as big of a sham/scam as the war on terror.

Tiger 76 said...

To answer 2 questions. Firstly, 0.0056 G of meth = 5.6 MG. Prescription tablets of methamphetamine, and yes it is available by Rx for ADHD and refractory weight loss, are 5 MG. That dosage will induce typical stimulant effects and you will feel energetic, somewhat euphoric and probably get your entire house cleaned. So it all comes down to how you define "high". To the chronic meth user, 5MG won't even get them out of bed due to the tolerance they develop. To a neophyte, 5 MG is somewhat of a rocket ride. So the first answer is subjective. Yes, the DEA worked it, that's what they do. Secondly, the question that wasn't asked but answered in every post is "is life in prison too harsh"? For a first offender, definitely. They may have been 3d strike felons and many states have mandatory life, no matter the charge, for 3d strikers. That's a tough call. For the highest traffickers and dealers at the top of the chain, punishment should be harsh. It really has to be taken on a case by case basis. I'm sure even Pablo Escobar had a mother and possibly a "normal" childhood, but he harmed his fellow man immeasurably. It's a sliding scale game and the more money you have for a defense, the better off you're likely to come out. So can't say if it was too harsh without more details, in my opinion. Cheers !!

Todd Goninon said...

The first casualty of war is the truth and the same seems to go for the drug war.

Horrible police, horrible drug dealers, horrible drug barons, horrible politicians, horrible drugs, horrible prison sentences. That's the fruit of the drug war.

Those who act to continue the drug war have blood on their hands and they are the ones who should be looking at lengthy prison sentences.