What's behind the increase in meth lab busts? Much of the rise can be traced to the very laws that the legislature has already put in place, as NC's Attorney General, Roy Cooper, inadvertently explained in a press release yesterday.
Meth lab busts in North Carolina reached a new high in 2012 as a simpler method for making small amounts of the drug spread statewide. At the same time, electronic tracking of pseudoephedrine buys is helping stop illegal sales and leading law enforcement to more meth labs, Attorney General Roy Cooper said Tuesday.There is no evidence that meth production is up. Meth busts have risen because of an increase in enforcement that is tied to last year's law. Also, the vast majority of busts that are being made involve much, much smaller labs than previous years--due also to changes in the law.
...State Bureau of Investigation agents responded to 460 meth labs in 2012, compared to 344 meth labs in 2011 and 235 labs in 2010. Approximately 73 percent of the meth labs busted in 2012 used the “one pot” method. One pot labs, also known as shake and bake labs, make smaller amounts of meth than previously seen larger meth labs. Criminals can cook meth in a plastic soda bottle using a small amount of pseudoephedrine, the illegal drug’s key ingredient found in cold medicine.
A new electronic system that tracks purchases of pseudoephedrine is helping to block illegal sales of that key ingredient and lead law enforcement to meth labs, Cooper said. Approximately 54,000 purchases, a total of more than 66,000 boxes of pseudoephedrine, were blocked last year in North Carolina by pharmacies using the system, called the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx). The amount of pseudoephedrine blocked could have been used to make 277 pounds of meth.
Making it harder to get the key ingredient has prevented an increase in the number of larger labs and has forced some criminals to use the one pot method.
The proposed prescription requirement would increase money costs, increase time costs, and generally inconvenience all North Carolininians. The requirement would discourage many, many more legitimate purchases (another cost) than illegitimate purchases. The increase in meth lab busts provides no justification whatsoever for imposing those widespread and very real burdens.