Friday, November 26, 2010

Record number of meth labs in Ky. boosts bid for pseudoephedrine prescription law like Oregon's

Kentucky law-enforcement officers found a record 111 methamphetamine labs last month, and the total of 939 found this year exceeds the annual record of 741 set last year, adding ammunition to an effort to "require a prescription for the cold and allergy drug that addicts and traffickers use to make meth," Bill Estep reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

But it's easy to overstate those records. "The number of labs is up because people have found ways to evade restrictions on purchases of an ingredient needed to make meth, and because they have found simpler ways to convert that ingredient to meth in small, homemade labs," Estep notes. The portable equipment includes 2-liter beverage bottles. "Each small lab doesn't produce much meth, so cookers create more labs, said Tommy Loving, director of the Bowling Green-Warren County Drug Task Force."

Kentucky officials who favor requiring prescriptions for the desongestant pseudoephedrine point to Oregon, the first state with such a law. "Oregon had far more meth labs than Kentucky at one point — 587 to 175 in 2001, for instance. But the rule requiring a prescription for products containing pseudoephedrine has wiped out meth labs in Oregon, said Rob Bovett, a prosecutor there who wrote the state's law," Estep reports. "Only five small meth labs have been found in Oregon this year, Bovett said. There has been a corresponding, significant drop in abuse of meth and in crime, he said." (Read more)

UPDATE, Nov. 28: Mexico has become the U.S.'s main source for meth, William Booth and Anne-Marie O'Connor of The Washington Post report.

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