Fighting meth

Saturday, June 13, 2009

There is a law in Missouri, passed during the 2009 session of the state legislature, that authorizes a statewide electronic monitoring system for pseudoephedrine-based drugs. These are the drugs in common over-the-counter medications that are used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.

But the electronic monitoring isn't in place yet because the funding for needed computer software hasn't been released. This is one of the programs affected by the state's revenue crunch.

In 2005, the legislature passed a law requiring all purchases of pseudoephedrine medications to be logged. This significantly reduced the sales of these medications and limited meth production.

But meth makers have found how easy it is to avoid detection by going from pharmacy to pharmacy, buying the legal limit of these medications. This is called smurfing.

With an electronic system, access to all purchases of pseudoephedrine would be instantly available rather than relying on paper logs kept by each pharmacy. Meth production is on the rise, and it's likely to continue to grow until there is a better way of fingering those who are buying medications for meth instead of allergies.

The state should consider the funding for the electronic monitoring a high priority. Long-term savings to the state would likely far exceed the cost of this important tool.

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