Right Thinking From The Left Coast
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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Sudafed Gambit

Well, this comes as no surprise.  We now have enough data to look at the impact that restrictions on cold medicine have had on meth production.  The impact is somewhere between “jack shit” and “made things worse”.

Electronic systems that track sales of the cold medicine used to make methamphetamine have failed to curb the drug trade and instead created a vast, highly lucrative market for profiteers to buy over-the-counter pills and sell them to meth producers at a huge markup.

An Associated Press review of federal data shows that the lure of such easy money has drawn thousands of new people into the methamphetamine underworld over the last few years.

“It’s almost like a sub-criminal culture,” said Gary Boggs, an agent at the Drug Enforcement Administration. “You’ll see them with a GPS unit set up in a van with a list of every single pharmacy or retail outlet. They’ll spend the entire week going store to store and buy to the limit.”

Inside their vehicles, the so-called “pill brokers” punch out blister packs into a bucket and even clip coupons, Boggs said.

Being roped into this black market are people who really aren’t criminals, like dumbass college kids looking for beer money.  But at least we have an omelet to go with our broken eggs, right?  Right?

Meth-related activity is on the rise again nationally, up 34 percent in 2009, the year with the most recent figures. That number includes arrests, seizures of the drug and the discovery of abandoned meth-production sites.

The increase was higher in the three states that have electronically tracked sales of medication containing pseudoephedrine since at least 2008. Meth incidents rose a combined 67 percent in those states — 34 percent in Arkansas, 65 percent in Kentucky and 164 percent in Oklahoma.

Supporters of tracking say the numbers have spiked because the system makes it easier for police to find people who participate in meth production. But others question whether the tracking has helped make the problem worse by creating a new class of criminals that police must pursue.

Reminder: the federal crackdown on pseudoephedrine came from anti-terrorism laws, not anti-drug laws.  Proponents of sudafed-tracking are pointing to Oregon, which has seen a huge drop in meth incidents.  But others states saw similar drops in the immediate aftermath of passing the laws, only to see meth use rise to new highs once criminals figured out how to game the system.

It’s just amazing, isn’t it?  It’s just amazing to watch how often our political class is gob-smacked by the the stark reality that you can not stop criminal activity by punishing the law-abiding.  All our electronic tracking and showing of licenses has gotten us is more meth use, more people getting involved in criminal activity and a nation full of stuffed-up noses.  Thanks a lot, guys!

Posted by Hal_10000 on 01/11/11 at 06:10 PM in Politics   Law, & Economics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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