A U.S. House subcommittee is currently hearing testimony to decide whether to put stricter restrictions on ephedrine and pseudoephedrine both key ingredients in methamphetamine. Even if the federal government does not pass these restrictions, South Carolina can still pass state legislation restricting access to these ingredients. So far, two states have enacted a prescription requirement for ephedrine and pseudoephedrine including Oregon and Mississippi. Since Mississippi has enacted this requirement in 2010, there has been a 90 percent drop in meth lab crimes.
Is South Carolina doing enough to control the methamphetamine problem in our state?
Many South Carolinians feel adequate measures to prevent production of methamphetamine, or meth, are not being taken. Meth production depends on two key ingredients, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. Both of these ingredients are found in over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines.
Methamphetamine is extremely addictive, very toxic, and can affect not only the users, but also the community. The Upstate of South Carolina saw the most meth lab busts in the first half of 2012, exceeding the total for the rest of the state combined. Overall, South Carolina ranks in the top 10 for meth-producing states. Referring to the meth crisis as an “epidemic” is a bit strong, but if adequate measures are not taken to reduce the problem, it may become a full-blown “epidemic”.
The the meth problem burdens not only on law enforcement, but also on innocent people. Heavier restrictions on obtaining ephedrine and pseudoephedrine make it hard for chronic allergy sufferers to obtain the medicine they need. Community members also are burdened by the meth problem. Methamphetamine can ignite or explode anytime during production, making sites contaminated. This puts neighbors and others around the site at risk. Many times these meth labs are not in remote areas, but in communities and neighborhoods around the state. To clean up a meth lab explosions hazmat suits are needed.
Fighting the Problem
The Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 put restrictions on the daily and monthly limits on how much ephedrine and pseudoephedrine can be purchased by a person. To buy these over the counter drugs one must show identification. Their purchases are then recorded in a database and monitored by law enforcement. This measure is not foolproof. Meth producers are now using false ID’s and a recruiting others to make the purchase for them. This act is known as “smurfing”.
There are talks of making ephedrine and pseudoephedrine only available by prescription. Many feel this would leave allergy sufferers at a disadvantage and create an added expense and inconvenience for these people. Allergy sufferers would have to attend doctor appointments and pay higher costs associated with these prescriptions.
A State Law Enforcement Division official estimates about 15 percent of the population purchases products containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. Some of these allergy sufferers may get the same relief through other nonprescription drugs that do not contain ephedrine or pseudoephedrine. In addition, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine could be classified as schedule III drugs meaning physicians could call the prescription in over the phone without the patient having to make an appointment.
A U.S. House subcommittee is currently hearing testimony to decide whether to put stricter restrictions on ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. Even if the federal government does not pass these restrictions, South Carolina can still pass state legislation restricting access to these ingredients. So far, two states have enacted a prescription requirement for ephedrine and pseudoephedrine including Oregon and Mississippi. Since Mississippi has enacted this requirement in 2010, there has been a 90 percent drop in meth lab crimes.
If you or a loved one has been charged with manufacturing, distributing or possessing methamphetamine or another drug crime you need to call the South Carolina drug crimes attorneys at the Strom Law Firm today. We will fight to get your drug charges reduced or even dismissed. Call us today for a free consultation. 803.252.4800.