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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Unanimous Idiocy from Columbus

The week before last, the Ohio General Assembly gave its final approval to Senate Bill 53, which will force purchasers of pseudoephedrine to put their names on a government list in a futile attempt to curb the manufacture and use of methamphetamine. The bill, which had previously been approved by the Senate on a unanimous vote last October, was enacted by the House, also on a unanimous vote, on January 18.

The good news is that the act is less restrictive than pseudoephedrine restrictions in some states. It exempts the following (per ยง 2925.55 (A) (4)):
(a) A consumer product containing pseudoephedrine that is in a liquid, liquid capsule, or gel capsule form;
(b) A consumer product primarily intended for administration to children under twelve years of age, according to the label instructions, in solid dosage form, including chewable tablets, when individual dosage units do not exceed fifteen milligrams of pseudoephedrine.
The bad news is that the pseudoephedrine restrictions in the act will merely punish law-abiding cold and allergy sufferers, and have little to no effect on methamphetamine consumption. In November, I pointed to this KOTV report on Oklahoma's experience with pseudoephedrine restrictions:
State drug agents say a new law that led to a dramatic drop in the number of methamphetamine labs has not reduced overall meth use.

And state Bureau of Narcotics director Lonnie Wright says many meth addicts are now using a Mexican-made version of the drug known as "crystal ice.''

Wright says the number of meth labs found in the state is down 90 percent since a law went into effect 15 months ago that restricts the sale of cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine, a prime ingredient in meth.

But he says the amount of crystal ice found in the state has increased by five times.
At The Agitator, Radley Balko points to this New York Times article (registration required; use bugmenot.com to get around it) about a similar problem in Iowa:
But Mr. Van Haaften, like officials in other states with similar restrictions, is now worried about a new problem: the drop in home-cooked methamphetamine has been met by a new flood of crystal methamphetamine coming largely from Mexico.

Sometimes called ice, crystal methamphetamine is far purer, and therefore even more highly addictive, than powdered home-cooked methamphetamine, a change that health officials say has led to greater risk of overdose. And because crystal methamphetamine costs more, the police say thefts are increasing, as people who once cooked at home now have to buy it.


And although child welfare officials say they are removing fewer children from homes where parents are cooking the drug, the number of children being removed from homes where parents are using it has more than made up the difference.

"It's killing us, this Mexican ice," said Mr. Van Haaften, a former sheriff. "I'm not sure we can control it as well as we can the meth labs in your community."

A methamphetamine cook could make an ounce for $50 on a stovetop or in a lab in a car; that same amount now costs $800 to $1,500 on the street, the police say.

Our burglaries have just skyrocketed," said Jerry Furness, who represents Buchanan County, 150 miles northeast of Des Moines, on the Iowa drug task force. "The state asks how the decrease in meth labs has reduced danger to citizens, and it has, as far as potential explosions. But we've had a lot of burglaries where the occupants are home at the time, and that's probably more of a risk. So it's kind of evening out."


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