In our last post, we were discussing a recent Associated Press report on the unintended consequences of laws limiting the sale of pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient of methamphetamine. According to the AP, the laws have created a new problem: “pill brokers.” And, after a brief slump, meth criminal activity is on the rise again.
Experts say the tracking laws share the blame for the nationwide increase in meth busts. There has certainly been an increase in traffic from Mexican cartels, and new manufacturing methods have made it easier to produce small amounts of meth. But the tracking laws, and the black market they helped to create, are factors the Drug Enforcement Administration and other law enforcement agencies can work with lawmakers to change.
National meth crime data from 2009 showed a 34 percent increase over 2008. The three states with electronic tracking systems reported even more discouraging numbers: 34 percent, 65 percent and 164 percent. It’s hard not to make the link between the laws and the increases.
Some law enforcement experts credit the laws with making it easier for police or the DEA to locate people who produce the drug and shut down meth labs. One officer in a state with electronic tracking argued, “If we pull the plug on electronic tracking, we lose the ability to see where these labs are at.” It would be a step backward.
In spite of the questionable results, though, other states are considering implementing electronic tracking systems. It is a low-cost answer to a difficult drug issue.
Another strategy to limit access to pseudoephedrine is to require a prescription for the decongestant. Pharmaceutical companies, however, claim they would lose as much as $550 million annually if this were to happen, though. But the results in states that have implemented the requirement have been impressive. In Oregon, for example, in 2005 (the year before the prescription law), there were 191 meth incidents. In 2009, that number was down to 12.
Drug enforcement professionals did not comment one way or another about the prescription law. Their efforts are focused on the pill brokers, the newest criminal endeavor in the fight against crystal meth.
Resource: AP “Meth Flourishes Despite Tracking Laws” 01/10/11