Along with being a public safety threat and an environmental nightmare, the cost to clean up a meth lab is extremely high, anywhere from $2,500 to $7,000, depending on the size of the lab. All of this is done at taxpayers' expense.
Because all of this is being fueled by an unprecedented level of addiction, Marshall Fisher, director of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, says the way the state battles the problem must change.
Mississippi Department of Corrections inmate Jerry Blackstock will be up for parole in another two years. If released, he can't touch meth or its ingredients ever again or he will end up back in prison, this time for the rest of his life under his current plea deal. And even with this hanging over his head. Blackstock made a sobering confession.
Newscenter 11 asked if he could say he would never do the drug again.
"No, ma'am, to be honest with you, no. I want to be honest," said Blackstock. "No, ma'am, that is sad. It really is sad. It's that bad. I lay here at night thinking I want it."
And it's this level of addiction Fisher -is dealing with on a daily basis.
"There may be people who can put down the needles and stop using it, but I think they are few and far between," said Fisher.
So instead, Fisher finally decided that just locking addicts up wasn't helping the problem. Instead he said the state has to make it harder to buy the ingredients, common items which have other legitimate uses.
Meth is the state's number one drug threat. Last year these arrests outnumbered those for heroin and crack cocaine combined.
"For my agency, over time, if this problem persists is that we will be spending all of our resources responding to meth labs," said Fisher. "Meth labs that are set up by people who have an addiction issue. You have an entire law enforcement agency with the largest amount of our resources focused towards people with addictions, instead of organizations, major drug trafficking like people who manufacture and bring in to Mississippi, cocaine, marijuana organizations."
But Fisher knows the battle won't be over when the law takes effect in July. He said he's ready for the addicts who will travel across state lines or even forge prescriptions.
Blackstock, using his addict's mind-set, is expecting there to be an increase in pharmacy break-ins, or he says people will find other ways to make it.
That's where we'll pick up in Part 3, taking a closer look at the addiction and why Blackstock believes addicts will do whatever they can to make the drug.