Cold medicine policy aimed at reducing meth production ends up creating more criminals.

Crystal Meth is one of the few drugs that makes me doubt my belief that drug prohibition laws should be repealed — it’s affects are stunningly deleterious to addicts. The problem with trying to control production is the fact that it can be whipped up using common household chemicals and over-the-counter cold medications. There’s also a variety of methods, most of them dangerous, that can be used to produce meth.

Given all of that, it was decided the best plan of attack was to track and limit how much cold medicine you can legally buy. The idea being that if you tried to buy more than a reasonable amount of cold medicines that can be used in meth production the authorities could be notified. This did put a dent in meth production, for awhile at least.

Ultimately the meth producers did what any enterprising business would do and outsourced the acquisition of cold medicines to people looking to make a quick buck:

“It’s almost like a sub-criminal culture,” said Gary Boggs, an agent at the Drug Enforcement Administration. “You’ll see them with a GPS unit set up in a van with a list of every single pharmacy or retail outlet. They’ll spend the entire week going store to store and buy to the limit.”

Inside their vehicles, the so-called “pill brokers” punch out blister packs into a bucket and even clip coupons, Boggs said.

[…] In some cases, the pill buyers are not interested in meth. They may be homeless people recruited off the street or even college kids seeking weekend beer money, authorities say.

Because of booming demand created in large part by the tracking systems, they can buy a box of pills for $7 to $8 and sell it for $40 or $50.

The tracking systems “invite more people into the criminal activity because the black market price of the product becomes so much more profitable,” said Jason Grellner, a detective in hard-hit Franklin County, Mo., about 40 miles west of St. Louis.

“Where else can you make a 750 percent profit in 45 minutes?” asked Grellner, former president of the Missouri Narcotics Officers Association.

via AP IMPACT: Meth flourishes despite tracking laws – Yahoo! News.

Oops. It’s that damned law of unintended consequences again.

Most of these laws were enacted back in 2006 and in spite of them, or perhaps even because of them, meth production has been on the rise after that initial minor drop. By 2009 it had increased by 34% and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon:

The increase was higher in the three states that have electronically tracked sales of medication containing pseudoephedrine since at least 2008. Meth incidents rose a combined 67 percent in those states — 34 percent in Arkansas, 65 percent in Kentucky and 164 percent in Oklahoma.

Supporters of tracking say the numbers have spiked because the system makes it easier for police to find people who participate in meth production. But others question whether the tracking has helped make the problem worse by creating a new class of criminals that police must pursue.

Not only are more people making and using meth than ever before, but the laws have increased the number of people profiting from its production. Once again the Powers That Be are attempting to control the problem by cutting off the supply instead of dealing with the demand. So long as there are people out there providing a demand for meth the criminals will find a way to produce it and for every one we incarcerate there are a dozen more available to fill the void.

14 thoughts on “Cold medicine policy aimed at reducing meth production ends up creating more criminals.

  1. Wow I typed two paragraphs and made a “captcha error” and it took me back here and my post was gone. Would it be possible to arrange things so that doesn’t happen Les? Sometimes its hard to tell the difference between a porpoise and a killer whale, and it sure sucks to lose one’s prose over it.

  2. This always happens. Make something harder to get, people will stretch further over the abyss to reach it. In a supply-and-demand game such as drugs, the suppliers always profit; the more so when risks go up, not less.
    Now, Mexican cartels have taken over the production of methamphetamine, and it is now easier for an addict to get consistent, quality meth than it ever was before, since the supply was reduced and the demand was not. Now that THOSE guys are in the game, there’s no getting them out. Way to go with those laws boys! How could anyone, after even a casual look at the history of prohibition of anything, think it is a workable, reasonable solution? It is not.
    Now we have to feel like criminals to buy a lousy box of Sudafed (sign your name, show an ID, get stared at) and ephedrine has been removed from the market (oh THANK YOU nanny governement for looking out for us. How’s that tobacco industry doing?)
    And we pass more laws every day. This country is getting legislated to death.

  3. How could anyone, after even a casual look at the history of prohibition of anything, think it is a workable, reasonable solution? It is not.

    But it makes a lot of people a lot of money. Have you noticed the Trial Lawyers have a lot of money to influence legislation that further inflates trial lawyer income? Hmmm.


  4. Hi Les… Ummm, huh?? I registered an account like two years ago.. The picture of Maria COMES from OpenID.. In fact, when I come here, my ID and email is (italics) already entered. Please explain!!

  5. Did the registration get botched when moving to wordpress or something? You guys do see my OpenID picture, right? Cuz I do on my end.. Weird.. Help..

  6. OK sorry to spam this thread, please feel free (of course)to delete after we resolve it but I logged in with my user name manually (without a cookie) in the login box (I never use it because I’m already logged in whenever I come here, with my info and picture from OpenID like I said) and it opened a dashboard with what looks like at least partial administrative powers, such as all the posts –you’ve– made personally and the ability to delete them???! That doesn’t seem right does it? WTF?? Help? 🙂

  7. more thing: are u telling me you don’t remember me?!!? I’ve been here posting for dog-knows-how-long
    LeGuru, you remember me right?! Aaaagh!! Twilight Zone strikes again!! 😉

  8. I remember you just fine. 🙂 And, yes, when you login you’re taken to a dashboard. Not to worry, though, you shouldn’t have the ability to delete any entry you didn’t author yourself. I do see your OpenID pic, but that’s a Gravatar and it’s based on your email address, not your OpenID.

    Basically, when you’re logged in you shouldn’t even see the fields for Name, Email, or Website. It should just be the text area with the editing par and the option to check to subscribe and Submit Comment. Bypasses the Captcha altogether.

    Plus, from the dashboard you can submit entries for consideration if you wish.

  9. When posting to any blog the smart thing to do BEFORE you try to post is to press Control + A and then Control + C. This selects your prose and copies it should an error occur all you have to do is press Control + P and paste it back. 😉

    I was in Target one evening and my cashier was pale and shaking. I asked if she was ok and she nearly burst into tears. Seems that about 15 minutes before some moron tried to buy more antihistamine than the law allows and came over the counter after the poor cashier when she was told she couldn’t have it. The police came and took the witch away, but my poor cashier needed to go home and being classy her boss made her stay.

    If it was up to me I’d give the meth freaks all they want and provide free burial. Good riddance. You can’t prohibit it, you can’t stop it, but if enough of them kill themselves maybe the other nuts will say “hey, that shit will kill you” and go back to Ripple.

  10. LeGuru, you remember me right?! Aaaagh!! Twilight Zone strikes again!! 😉

    Hi, Legacy. Yes, I remember you. Les switched to Word Press and the world stood still. Have patience, you’ll get used to it.


  11. JaneGael

    Thanks for the tip. I was unaware of that trick. And, yes, I agree to let the meth-heads evolve themselves out of the gene pool.



  12. Meth could be all but shut down in a heartbeat. Make it a prescription drug. Which would you rather have as a social problem, people having a minor hassle to get cold medicine or a growing number meth zombies? I was at the pharmacy last winter getting some cold pills and even though i had to show my license in Illinois, the drug makers lobby has made sure the I could get enough to treat a pride of elephants.

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