Pubdate: Thu, 06 Apr 2006
Source: Asheville Citizen-Times (NC)
Copyright: 2006 Asheville Citizen-Times
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Bookmark: (Opinion)


For years the news on the methamphetamine front was about how many 
more laboratories police discovered cooking up the lethal potion. 
Finally North Carolina has some good news in the fight against meth: 
The number of meth lab busts declined by about a third in the first 
quarter of 2006, thanks to a law clamping down on retail sale of key 

Meth is a highly addictive, easily manufactured illegal stimulant 
that worked its way east from the West Coast. "Cooked" up of readily 
available ingredients such as cold medicine, it spread like wildfire 
in North Carolina. State and local officials busted nine meth labs in 
1999. Four years later, 177 labs were raided, and 322 in 2004. There 
were 328 labs found in 2005.

The manufacturing process, which produces a strong odor and a large 
amount of toxic byproduct, requires a certain amount of concealment, 
making the foothills and mountains an ideal place for makeshift labs. 
Most of North Carolina's meth labs have been found in our western end 
of the state.

On Jan. 15, the new laws went into effect that limited sales for cold 
medications that contain pseudoephedrine and ephedrine, which are 
necessary for meth manufacture. To buy these products, such as 
Sudafed, also now requires photo ID and a signature on a log sheet. 
The log sheets can be turned over to law enforcement to check on 
potential meth cooks going from store to store to buy the tablets.

Pharmacists report the new rules have not been a burden. "It's been a 
big gain for a small sacrifice," said Larry Brookshire, co-owner of 
B&B Pharmacy on Haywood Road. "I'm glad to see this idea is working 
as well as it is."

N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper was pleased with the results. "We're 
the first state on the East Coast to do this, and it's already 
showing immediate, positive results," he said. "We still have them 
(meth labs) with us, but this new law appears to be working because 
it's much more difficult for criminals to get the main ingredients to 
make meth."

March of this year saw police raid 14 meth labs. Police raided 40 
labs in March 2005 and 33 in March 2004.

In tackling new problems, it isn't often that legislation makes such 
a discernible difference this quickly. Our hat is off to everyone 
involved in the war on meth, from Attorney General Cooper who 
advocated for the new law to the legislators who approved it and the 
cops on the front line.

Perhaps one of these years we will see zero meth lab busts and look 
back on meth as a scourge successfully eradicated. 
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