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T.O. in your “ship to” address charged with more than 400 grams \(14 which carries a punishment range of 15 to 99 yearseven if the process would have yielded only a few grams of finished product. “The irony is, attempt to manufacture methamphetamine can bring a higher punishment than the finished product,” says Wichita Falls defense attorney Bob Estrada, who is handling M.archand’s . appeal. “You theoretically get a higher sentence for trying to make it than for actually making it.” Several district attorneys, including Cole, have said that this is a problem that needs to be fixed, but the law stands, and Bird stands by the law.Because of that law, almost any cook can be defined as “major.” The current Legislature, meanwhile, is likely to pass a law making it easier to go after them. House Bill 3351, sponsored by Representative Jim Keifer, would make it illegal to possess all the ingredients for a cook, even if it hasn’t been started yet. Step back from all this, and it might seem strange that manufacture of methamphetamine has so quickly become regarded as an evil in and of itself, given that large pharmaceutical companies were churning it out just 30 years ago.Then again, that’s just a shortened version of what has happened with most illegal drugs over the past century: When they were legal, they had a range of uses and effects but were abused by some; made illegal, they are uniformly bad. Unlike guns, for instance, drugs are not viewed as agents of harm. They are harm itself, measurable in grams. 0 ne strange thing about Nazi meth is how often people mention Wal-Mart in association with the drug. You can buy all the ingredients at Wal-Mart.You can pick out the dopers at Wal-Mart. When I inter viewed Bill Coombs, he even called it “Wal-Mart meth.” Wichita Falls is not a large city, but Wal-Mart is hardly the only store.You could buy the relevant ingredients at K-Mart, and presumably some dopers shop at Target. No other store has the symbolic associations of Wal-Mart, though, and there are a number of parallels between what people say about WalMart and what people say about methamphetamine.They are both spoken of as the thing that ate rural America, destroyers of small towns. They are both linked, though riot exclusively, to low-income consumers. And they both induce varieties of overstimulation. “If you want to see some tweakers,” Stacy Marchand told me, “Go to that Wal-Mart on the highway at two in the morning. That’s who’s there, walking around with their shopping carts and not buying anything.” Curious to see if this was true, I headed over to the 24-hour Wal-Mart on Highway 44 late one night, at about one a.m.The lights were overwhelmingly bright.The shelves teemed with merchandise. An advertisement for a squeegee mop played on a television monitor while a competing ad for a Brittany Spears album played over the loudspeaker. I did see one woman who looked like a meth user, pushing a cart draped with clothes and pausing to examine a cereal bowl, but mostly I saw night stockers, dozens of them, tearing apart boxes and unloading more and more stuff. In that moment, what Wal-Mart and speed really seemed to have in common was a kind of relentlessnessa kind of overdrive that tries to gloss over sadness but, in the end, only brings it into relief. Drug addiction is our biggest open secret. There they are, the addicts, skeletal and jaundiced, walking around Wal-Mart. The Wal-Mart corporation has instituted’ limits on the amount of cold pills you can buy at its stores, and in some parts ofTexas, police even stake out Wal-Marts to try to catch meth cooks. Yet I have not heard of, say, an outreach worker stationed at Wal-Mart trying to help these people. Their obvious suffering goes unacknowledged. Even the smallest recognition of pain can be startling. I asked Stacy Marchand how she fell in love with Doug, and she told me it happened five years ago, one night when they were both working at the same bar in Wichita Falls. Both he and she were dating other people at the time; Doug came in and said his girlfriend was having cramps. “He said, ‘Is there anything I can do for her?’ recalls Stacy. “So I told Doug to get her Midol, and he said, ‘What about Pamprin? I bought Pamprin.’ I said ‘That’s good.’ Doug left to go deliver the Pamprin to his girlfriend. Stacy turned to another waitress, she remembers. “And I said, ‘You know, in all my life if I ever had any man go to buy me personal items, much less Pamprin, or give a crap how I feel during that time of month…. Because they just really don’t care. That’s your problem.You worry about it.” She continues: “I said to Jennifer, ‘How sweet is that?'” Stacy thinks Doug is the kindest man she’s ever known. They were married in January of last year, two months after Doug was sent to prison for the rest of his life. 5/11/01 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17