The production and abuse of the narcotic methamphetamine have reached epidemic proportions in California, fast becoming the "crack" of the 1990's. Methamphetamine is highly addictive, and law enforcement officials in California and throughout the United States attribute rising methamphetamine abuse to increases in emergency room admissions and violent crimes; more than 1,800 deaths were caused by methamphetamine abuse from 1992 to 1994. Methamphetamine can be cooked up by just about anybody in makeshift labs hidden in mobile homes, isolated farms, and even motel rooms. The key ingredient of methamphetamine is ephedrine, a tightly controlled substance. Because of the difficulty in obtaining ephedrine legally, drug dealers have turned to less- regulated substitutes. The Comprehensive Methamphetamine Control Act of 1996 is an effort to curb the production and abuse of this dangerous drug. This legislation establishes new control over key chemicals necessary to manufacture methamphetamine and increases the criminal sentences for possession and distribution of these chemicals or possession of the specialized equipment used to make methamphetamine.