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Cost of meth labs goes beyond money; children are victims

WMBF News, June 13, 2013

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - It's a cheap high that leaves a much higher bill. Last year more than 500 meth labs were discovered across South Carolina. Each one costing around $2,500 to remove the most obvious contaminants.

Then there's the opportunity cost to narcotics officers, firefighters and EMS.

But the dollar figure isn't Laura Hudson's biggest concern. She's the Executive Director of the South Carolina Crime Victims Council.

"I can't imagine not knowing what's happening to me," she said. "Having a parent who's totally addicted to something and not really caring about what happens to me. That's the plight many of our children find themselves in."

Hudson's talking about the kids who are often discovered along with their parents' makeshift labs.

"Those children tend to be abused and neglected," said Hudson. "They're not fed properly, not clothed properly not cleaned properly."

And there are a lot of them.

SLED's meth expert Lt. Max Dorsey says last year more than 100 kids were taken from meth lab situations and put into the custody of DSS for at least some time. Many will need to be monitored for health issues.

"One pot labs have been seized in homes and several years later tests have been performed on the home and meth residue has been found," Dorsey said.

"When they inhale the meth residue, they can have psychological problems developmental problems, things that affect all humans but children are more susceptible to that."

Right now there's no standard practice when it comes to handling a child taken from a lab. Hudson is working to change that.

And Dorsey continues to drive home the price of the labs. A process as corrosive to our economy as it is to the users.

"The public, if they knew how much time money and effort it took, I think it would concern more people," he said.

Hudson is calling for support of a bill that would make pseudoephedrine, the key ingredient in these shake and bake labs, a Scheduled 3 drug, meaning you would need a prescription to get it.

Dorsey said Oregon passed a similar law and saw their presence of meth labs cut by more than 90%.

That bill didn't make it through this legislative session. Hudson is hopeful it could gain traction when the next session begins in January.