HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Ark Meth Law Breaking In-State Supply Chain, But
Pubdate: Sun, 28 Aug 2005
Source: Log Cabin Democrat (AR)
Copyright: 2005 The Log Cabin Democrat
Author: Associated Press
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


AMAGON, Ark. - Arkansas' new law limiting access to the legal cold medicine 
ingredients of methamphetamine has worked in some respects, but not in 
others, state authorities say.

Methamphetamine-possession cases have increased in the state, even though 
the new law has sharply reduced the number of meth labs authorities are 
finding here.

The key, they say, is the law has given pharmacies nearly total control 
over the distribution of previously over-the-counter cold medicines and 
effectively cut off the supply chain for Arkansas' meth producers. But, at 
the same time, meth users and dealers have developed new sources for the 
drugs among gangs, particularly those based in Mexico.

Convenience stores and other small shops, the most important links in the 
methamphetamine supply chain, have been neutralized by the state law, which 
sets a 9 gram monthly limit per customer on sales of the cold pill 
pseudoephedrine. Previously, customers couldn't buy more than 9 grams per 
purchase and were getting around the old, weaker law by making several 
trips to different stores.

That turned stores like Armagon Grocery and General Store into unwitting, 
legal, but significant suppliers of meth labs, which not only produce 
illegal substances, but have a tendency to explode and kill innocent 

The Armagon store sold nearly 5,000 packs of sinus medicine a year in a 
town of only 95 people.

"If everybody in town had had a cold, they still shouldn't have used this 
much," said John Kirtley, assistant director of the state Board of Pharmacy.

Retired pseudoephedrine wholesaler Cliff McQuay Sr. said crowds of people 
would "swarm the place" when he would deliver cold medicine to the small, 
run-down general store. He said he never suspected the customers were drug 
addicts and his deliveries complied with a federally mandated 1 
kilogram-per-store limit.

Adding to the supply problem before the law was stiffened, some convenience 
stores overtly flouted the law, selling well more than the 9 gram limit to 
customers at one time. North Little Rock city attorney Paul Suskie, a 
Democratic attorney general candidate, said an undercover officer went into 
one store announcing his intention to make meth and received advice from 
the sales clerk.

The new law appears to have shut most of that activity down, but the state 
Crime Lab says meth cooks and users are still finding products from outside 
the state - mainly the pure form of meth produced in Mexico called "ice."

"We're hitting houses that have 18 pounds of ice," said Bill Bryant, the 
agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency office in Little Rock.

Also, pharmacy databases are still not linked, so meth cooks are still able 
to shop from drug store to drug store without being detected. Oklahoma has 
applied for federal grants for a statewide database, but the Arkansas 
Pharmacists Association has concerns about security.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette,
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MAP posted-by: Elizabeth Wehrman