Feds Seek to Clamp Down on Meth Abuse

Discussion
Dec 29, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Despite 20 years of fighting the illegal manufacture and use of methamphetamine in the U.S., the drug is at the peak of its popularity and is said to have reached epidemic proportions
in some communities.

The nation’s lawmakers have taken notice and there is a bipartisan move in Washington to pass legislation that would severely restrict the sale of legal products containing pseudoephedrine
or PSE (the main ingredient in meth) in retail stores.

According to a report in the Palm Beach Post, “If the bipartisan proposal passes muster on Capitol Hill, photo IDs could be required to buy such common and popular drugs
as NyQuil and Sudafed. Written logs of who purchased the drugs, and how much was purchased, would be mandatory.”

Many see this as the government overreaching, making life more difficult for law-abiding citizens and businesses.

Randy Miller, senior vice president of government affairs for the Florida Retail Federation, called the proposal “draconian.”

In Florida, state law requires medicines made up with pseudoephedrine to be sold from behind the counter with a limit of three packages per purchase.

National figures peg the percentage of methamphetamine made from product bought in U.S. retail stores as 20 percent of the total. Most of the illegal drug in the country comes
from labs outside the U.S.

Some manufacturers, such as Procter & Gamble with its Vicks line of products, have taken steps to bypass the PSE issue by developing cough/cold remedies that do not contain
the ingredient. 

Moderator’s Comment: Has the war on meth and other drugs been lost? Is it time for the retail industry to get behind
proposals other than the current criminalization model to address drug abuse in society and the workplace?

George Anderson – Moderator

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14 Comments on "Feds Seek to Clamp Down on Meth Abuse"


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M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
15 years 1 month ago

If “most of the illegal drug in the country comes from labs outside the U.S.” (80%), then exactly how is limiting sales of component products inside the U.S. going to significantly impact the overall distribution of meth?

If recording purchases of meth component products becomes the law of the land, who’s going to track them? We can’t even track gun purchases. Meth lab operators obtain component products in many ways to escape the radar: Multiple small purchases by several people at several stores, shoplifting, and hijacking are among them. Here in the Sacramento area – one of the nation’s centers of meth production – labs are run by biker gangs that will go to any effort to get raw materials, not just over-the-counter PSE medicines. There are easier ways to score large amounts in raw form.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
15 years 1 month ago

It was once quipped that “they say bad air kills more people than whiskey, and whiskey kills 2/3 of the people”: where do they come from ?… A similar thing seems to be happening here: an army of reporters produces endless stories quoting sheriffs, social workers, and other such “experts,” all of them asserting that meth is behind 90% of crime and untold misery, yet the objective statistics show crime rates are stable or declining, and – save for obesity – the nation is as healthy as ever. The key to deciphering these “drug-of-the-month” stories is use of the word “epidemic.” Its appearance means that pretty much any attempt at rationality or perspective has been abandoned.

As for “solutions” to this “problem,” the modest and sensible idea of limited purchases and behind-the-countering makes the most sense; other ideas – such as Oregon’s foolish law making pseudoephedrine a prescription item – will cause only harm. And as for replacements: if something as cheap or effective existed, it would already be in use.

Dave Wendland
Guest
15 years 1 month ago

Unfortunately, the meth issue will not be the last in a series of changes to once-deemed-safe OTC medications. The old adage, “where there’s a will there’s a way,” applies to the abusers who will try to circumvent an otherwise safe remedy for illicit purposes.

Retailers have responded to the issue by moving pseudoephedrine (PSE) items behind the counter and manufacturers have responded by reformulating their remedies to remove PSE and consulting firms like ours have responded with consumer messaging and new retail strategies that serve to both educate the general population on how to deal with this nuisance and to try to minimize the loss of revenue and profits from the removal of these key items to the category.

What’s next? I’m not sure which ingredient will be the next “joy drug” of abusers, but I am certain that retailers, manufacturers and consulting firms will once again step up to the plate and do whatever it takes to ensure access for patients who require the medication and the safety of the general public.

Joe Delaney
Guest
Joe Delaney
15 years 1 month ago
The cost to the manufacturers to re-package and re-formulate, as well as the cost of retailers to re-merchandise and re-planogram, has been extremely high. Retailers and manufacturers need to pro-actively deal with these issues in that it’s better to do something now than to have it regulated for me later. Of course, that is easier said than done. I agree with some of the other respondents. Once this drug begins to wane, another one will surely achieve dominance. (Remember the epidemics of cocaine, crack, heroine, LSD….) The press will then over-report it, causing outrage and the typical knee jerk reaction by lawmakers. Lawsuits will pop up, since the pharmacies and grocery stores should surely have known that Billy and the gang were making drugs. Maybe we should recognize that the drug business is just like every other business – it is driven by the consumer. In business (drug and other wise), the path to success is to be proactive and not reactive. In government, it seems to be the other way around.
Bernice Hurst
Guest
15 years 1 month ago

A couple of the other comments have skirted around the real issue which I see as one of looking at the cause rather than the effect. First, if there is going to be legislation, it should be aimed at reformulating the products causing the problem.

More to the point, there should be some action taken to identify and eliminate the reasons for the demand. It sounds as if meth is manufactured from a combination of ingredients which all need to be sourced so not entirely simple or straightforward. Like smoking and underage drinking and bad behaviour and all sorts of other things, there are lots of variables depending on lots of lifestyle issues (how many parents at home, how much attention they pay to their kids, how much disposable income everyone has, what goes on in schools etc etc etc) causing increased usage and I strongly believe it is at least as important to address these as it is to pass laws making absolutely everyone show id to buy simple cold remedies.

Martin Amadio
Guest
Martin Amadio
15 years 1 month ago
The epidemic rise of “meth’ production and use across the nation is further proof of our society’s inability to stop drug use and abuse. Let us remember that it was president Richard Nixon who fired the first shot in this war and he was president over 30 years ago. It does not require a social scientist to observe that since then we have seen society move from abusing one drug to abusing another then to still another. The drugs change according to availability but the abuse continues. Do we as a society require any more evidence that there is no way to stop drug use and abuse? The fact that illegal and harmful drugs can be manufactured from readily available OTC products only validates our inability to stem drug use and abuse. If I am not mistaken, one can get intoxicated inhaling the fumes from gasoline. Should we regulate and restrict gasoline sales because certain members of our society are using gasoline to ‘get high’ and effectively kill them? Many years ago, I met a… Read more »
Art Williams
Guest
Art Williams
15 years 1 month ago

Even if the U.S. retail purchases only amount to 20% of the total problem, it is still very worthy of our doing everything we can to reduce. Why does it take so long to get our attention? We are fortunate to not have kids that are the age to be tempted but we have grandkids that will be. We owe it to them to do anything and everything that we can to reduce the likelihood that they will be sucked into this problem. Parents are still the best line of defense by knowing where their kids are, who they are with and, as best they can, what they are doing. It’s a tough job but one that can’t be delegated.

William Huenemann
Guest
William Huenemann
15 years 1 month ago

The meth problem is huge and needs a lot more attention but I think we’ve again taken the wrong approach to solving it. In Nebraska, our State legislated a complicated law regulating the sale of the medicines containing pseudoephedrine causing great inconvenience and expense to retailers (thankfully the original version of the law was amended or it would have been much worse). Many of the states have individually come up with their own solutions and, as the article mentions, the Feds are now going to address it also. This all seems like a backwards approach to a serious issue. If pseudoephedrine is the problem, then let’s remove it from the medicines as the drug manufacturers are now doing, remixing their medicines to remove the pseudoephedrine and replace it with a comparable item that cannot be used in the manufacture of meth. Imagine how much time, effort, and expense would/could be saved by this approach which removes the key ingredient of meth from even being available.

Jeff Weitzman
Guest
Jeff Weitzman
15 years 1 month ago

Ultimately, any attempt to solve a drug problem by making it harder (but not impossible) to get is, at best, ineffective and, at worst, masks the real problem. A massive effort to destroy marijuana crops in this country hasn’t done much more than raise the price of dope. Not that we shouldn’t try, but we shouldn’t kid ourselves. The only real solution is to cut the demand, and that requires honest communication and education and a realization that “just say no” is too simplistic.

All that said, limiting the number of packages that can be purchased is a simple, effective measure that should not inconvenience anyone with a cold. The big stores who don’t have any way to self-monitor who is buying large or regular quantities of these products should voluntarily make them harder to purchase. The local pharmacy can probably do as good a job by knowing their customers and their purchasing habits.

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
15 years 1 month ago

I believe that the meth deserves its own category and completely new approaches (including regulating readily-available components) rather than being grouped in with other drugs. Young people I have spoken with through mentoring, church work, etc. have at times told me that 100% of their friends are “on” meth. I have also spoken with those who got off of the drug and have seen first-hand the emotional blankness left in its wake. Meth causes permanent brain damage and I believe that society will soon see an unprecedented rise in the consciousless criminal acts that result from the use of this drug along with an accompanying rise in AIDS statistics and child neglect and abuse. In a few years, our system will be over-taxed with these problems…ones that won’t go away, even after people get “clean” since many will never return to normal functioning and the ability to be productive members of society. I believe that we are now seeing the very tip of the iceberg on this one.

Warren Thayer
Guest
15 years 1 month ago

Retailers need to take it more seriously. It should always be behind the counter, and I see nothing wrong with the three-pack limit. (In my youth, condoms were behind the counter; how things have changed.) Meth labs are being found in the woods up here (Vermont and New Hampshire) with increasing frequency. If we don’t get a handle on this quickly, I can see the government imposing very strict limits on present OTC remedies.

Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 1 month ago

Retailers don’t get involved in politics, and their lobbying successes are few. Industries that are more concentrated oligopolies (autos, tobacco, insurance companies, banks, utilities), more accustomed to collegial action, can have great lobbying effectiveness. Retailer CEOs, in comparison to oligopoly CEOs, are often loners, jealous of each other, with minimal capacity to understand that it’s easier to be successful by working with your competitors than working against them. Very few retail CEOs understand that there’s strength in unity.

A constructive mutual approach to hysteria over narcotics is not likely, since it would require major retail firms to work together. The best path towards mutual cooperation in retailing lies toward solving less controversial issues first. Mutual trust might develop over time, and it helps to start with less volatile concerns.

Alex Eisenberg
Guest
Alex Eisenberg
15 years 1 month ago

Yes, by all means, let’s make it necessary for sick customers to spend more time in the store hacking up germs so we can stop the percent OTC sales that are used for small-scale illegal drug production. Perhaps that will open the door for more organized crime to take up the manufacture. But, hey, at least they make campaign contributions.

Jason Brasher
Guest
Jason Brasher
15 years 1 month ago
This is beyond ridiculous! There are many medications that are much safer than the pseudoephedrine that are behind the counter for some unknown reasons. Pharmacists are required to take enough schooling to know the effects of medications on the body and are often close enough to the customers to know if there is a problem. Let’s face it; if a 6′ tall person that appears to weigh 100 lbs is looking to buy multiple packs of Sudafed, there is a problem. Manufacturers and retailers are already moving on their part to try and curb this problem. If the stats quoted here are accurate, that will only force more illegal importation and more border problems that we already cannot deal with. How long does it take to admit that one of the most corrupted administrations (the Nixon gang) was wrong and we have wasted vast resources destroying our country and what America stands for with this war on drugs? Legalize all illegal drugs with pharmacies/clinics that are set up to handle just these problems and make… Read more »
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