Meth lab maps by the years: Maine has as many as Mass., Conn. and N.J. combined

Today I filed a story about how some experts are worried that methamphetamine production, which is more convenient today than ever before, is on the rise in Maine.

As a companion to that, here are some interesting maps depicting which states have the most methamphetamine labs, distributed by the U.S. Department of Justice (the maps, that is). First, take a look at how the numbers have shifted through the years. I’ll add a few thoughts afterward.

OK, some thoughts now. While the number of labs in Maine have steadily climbed since 2009 and in 2012 reached their highest point on record — a figure equal to the number of meth labs discovered in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey combined — it’s worth noting that Maine law enforcement found 4 or 5 meth labs every year from 2004 through 2008 (with the exception of a 2007 lowpoint of 1).

So the creep-up post-2009 doesn’t represent completely uncharted territory as much as it hurts to know the state had driven the figure down to 1 and the addictive, toxic and explosive drug made a disheartening comeback.

The 2012 number is still a high-water mark, even with the labs discovered each year earlier this decade, and shows that the state is heading in the wrong direction. Nationwide statistics and those in much more populous states are dropping significantly. Even in Missouri and Tennessee, which seem to have been battling for the title of Meth Capitol of the U.S. in recent years, are showing progress in whittling their numbers down.

In California, where they’ve driven their meth lab totals down to just 79 from 2004’s high of 778, they had one lab for every 481,000 people in 2012. In 2012, Maine had about a meth lab for every 186,000 residents.

Maine isn’t alone in seeing its figures grow on this front, of course. Neighboring New Hampshire — which has a larger population, but not by a significant margin — has doubled or tripled Maine’s number of labs just about every year. And New York State’s figure has skyrocketed in recent years, from just 13 in 2007 to 147 last year.

Seth Koenig

About Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.