Over the last few years customers of local pharmacies have had to obtain cold medicine by taking a slip of paper stocked in the medicine aisle to a pharmacist where the over-the-counter drug would be tracked via an electronic tracking system. The purpose of the electronic system was to monitor the buyer’s legal limit of pseudoephedrine, a cold medicine used to make methamphetamine, and to reduce the number of drug crimes associated with the creation of meth.
According to new federal information, the electronic monitoring system and legal limit of pseudoephedrine have not been as successful as hoped and has created a new black economy. Instead of curbing the flow of cold medicine used to create meth, the electronic system has created a boom in demand for pseudoephedrine and has pushed the black market price of the drug significantly north. A box of pseudoephedrine pills can be purchased at a pharmacy for $7 or $8 and sold on the black market for $40 or $50.
The legal limit and electronic tracking system which was created to impede the obtainment of cold medicine apparently has backfired as individuals, who are not tempted by meth, purchase the cold medicine in order to make a quick buck. “Where else can you make 750 percent profit in 45 minutes?” asks a police detective from Missouri. Since tracking laws were created in 2006, the number of drug crimes involving meth is back on the climb.
Supporters of the tracking laws say the laws make it easier for police to identify people involved in the production of meth. The law’s detractors say it has created more criminals because more people are involved in the meth production process. Before the law when meth producers could purchase as many pills as they wanted, the production process often involved only one person. Now, meth producers enlist the help of any interested party.
Source: The Associated Press, “AP Impact: Meth Flourishes Despite Tracking Laws,” 1/10/11