NEW YORK California and Missouri legislatures may want to take a page out of Louisiana’s playbook in the pursuit of curbing illicit methamphetamine production. Because here, everyone wins (unless, of course, you’re a meth addict).
First, the most important objective of any pseudoephedrine legislation is it curb the illicit manufacture of methamphetamine. In 2005, the federal Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act attempted to do that by posing restrictions in the sale of PSE products by limiting the amount of PSE that can be legally purchased in a given time frame. And in an attempt to track and enforce those quantity restrictions, pharmacies were required to log any PSE purchases.
But drug addicts are a resourceful-even-if-misguided bunch, and invented the practice of “smurfing,” where meth addicts in search of the key PSE ingredient bought their legal limits in PSE products at one pharmacy, and then walked across the street to buy their legal limit at the next pharmacy.
Now, at least in Louisiana, meth addicts will soon be caught in real time violating those purchase restrictions.
This is good for two reasons. For starters, it does not inhibit the purchase of PSE for its legitimate and intended purpose — as a decongestant for a person suffering from a cold. All the more important these days, especially for hourly-wage cold-sufferers who can’t afford to miss a day’s pay on account of the sniffles. And the sledge-hammer-for-the-nail approach of re-writing prescription laws so that consumers would not only have to schedule a doctor’s visit for the common cold to get PSE defeats that purpose.
Second, it actually curbs the production of meth, which was the whole intent behind Congress’ 2005 Act in the first place. It curbs that production by actually giving the law enforcement the opportunity to lift those law-breakers off the street, which in the long run will have a greater impact on inhibiting illegal meth manufacture than will making PSE prescription drugs.
Legislating PSE products to prescription-only status also inhibits meth production, but only in the short term, or at least until meth addicts by way of necessity come up with the next “smurfing” tactic.