Saturday, April 08, 2006

Even with cold pills behind the counter: "We still have the addicts"

More news that pseudoephedrine restrictions don't reduce meth addiction. The Houston Chronicle this week ("New law puts dent in homemade meth," April 3) reported that Texas' new law restricting sale of pseuodephedrine curtailed the number of home labs, but Mexican and California suppliers have already filled the market gap and meth addiction continues unabated:

The new law allows people to buy two boxes of pills at a time, but they must show identification and sign for the purchase.

"We go around to the stores and pick up the lists. It's obvious who is 'smurfing' the pills," Whitehead said, using the slang term for making numerous, small purchases and accumulating enough pills to make a batch of the drug. "Quite a few of the ones we spot already have pending charges."

Statewide, lab seizures are down by an even larger margin: from 345 in 2003 to a current average of 10 a month, or 120 a year, according to Texas Department of Public Safety and U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency figures.

The demand for the drug has not slacked, however, and state and federal authorities say they are seeing an increase in seizures of methamphetamine imported from Mexico, including "ice" a form of the drug that, unlike homemade speed, is pure enough to be smoked.
Thirty five states have such laws, and Congress recently passed their own version. If Texas' experience is any measure, though, don't think for a moment putting cold medicine behind the counter solves anything. Even politicians who touted the statutes don't think they've curbed meth addiciton:
State Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, who sponsored Texas' pseudoephedrine bill, conceded it has not solved the meth problem.

"Stopping the labs is a plus for the communities where they're located," said Berman. He said young children are not exposed to the dangers of their parents cooking the drug in their homes. And the labs leave by-products that cost thousands of dollars to clean up, he said.

"We've gotten rid of some of the meth," Berman said, agreeing that imported meth is filling the void. "We still have the addicts."

Exactly. Supply side solutions alone can't stop people from abusing meth. In other jurisdictions, increases in burglaries have been reported as addicts who used to cook their own must pay cash for more expensive Mexican products. Maybe next session Rep. Berman and his colleagues will support more funding for drug courts, stronger probation, and solutions that work instead of creating new, more punitive measures.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The one "by-product" of this that shouldn't be overlooked is just how bad for the environment the user cooks have been. Dumping all of the leftover materials from a meth cook into their backyards, exposing their children, neighbors and the water table, etc.

Legalization/reducing property crime/rehabilitation of users is another issue. I like having a cleaner environment, and this law helps. Not to the extent of preventing the waste that large companies dump, but it's something.