Pubdate: Wed, 03 May 2006
Source: Barrie Advance, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2006 Metroland Printing, Publishing and Distributing
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine - Canada)


Law & Order

Police are applauding a move to restrict access to common household 
medications that can be used to produce crystal meth, a 
highly-addictive stimulant wreaking havoc in communities across Canada.

"It is definitely a positive step," said Det. Insp. Frank Elbers, 
deputy director of the OPP's Drug Enforcement Section. "Any 
controlling of it is going to help the situation."

As of April 10, grocery and convenience stores without pharmacies 
will no longer sell cough and cold medications containing ephedrine 
or pseudoephedrine - ingredients that can be used in the production 
of crystal methamphetamine.

In addition, pharmacies are being told to move products with the 
strongest dosages behind the counter.

"The pharmacist will have to dispense it like other types of 
medication," Elbers said. "They know how much should be dispensed. I 
can't see a pharmacist agreeing to give someone 12 packs of something 
containing pseudoephedrine."

Medications containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine as single 
ingredients will be moved behind the counter, while those containing 
multiple ingredients will continue to be available on shelves.

The changes come at the recommendation of the National Association of 
Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities. "This is a proactive measure to help 
make sure we don't get into the problems they are getting into in the 
U.S. with retail diversion," said executive director Ken Potvin.

A wider effort to restrict access to bulk quantities of the raw 
ingredients used to manufacture crystal meth is likely to drive 
producers to other sources, he said.

Limiting the availability of medications containing those same 
ingredients by placing them under the watchful eye of pharmacists is 
one method of curbing large-scale purchases, Potvin said. "It is 
better to be ahead of the curve and try to do something that is 
reasonable than trying to deal with the devastating effects after the fact."

Elbers said officers tasked with dismantling the highly-dangerous 
drug labs that produce crystal meth regularly find discarded blister 
packs, evidence that cough and cold medications had been used in the 
manufacturing process.

Reaction to the coming restrictions has been "all over the map," 
meeting with criticism from retailers impacted by the change and 
applause from police.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom