Two men, 63 and 50, recently were arrested after buying packs of decongestant pills, two at a time, at stores across suburban St. Louis, the Washington Post reports. They soon were in handcuffs for having 38 boxes of pills, enough to make an ounce of methamphetamine, the illegal and highly addictive stimulant that is better known as crank, crystal or just plain meth.
Missouri has led the country for the past two years in the number of clandestine labs shut down by police. The state is renewing efforts to clamp down on access to Sudafed and other pseudoephedrine-based products, which are prized by meth cooks because they can be easily transformed into the illicit street drug.
The Missouri legislature last month passed the nation’s most stringent such law, limiting sales of the medicine to two packages per person and requiring that the packages be placed near the checkout counter to prevent theft. Drug companies protested that the laws are a hardship on chronic allergy sufferers. With jails clogged and the meth problem as bad as ever, lawmakers said drug company profits and convenience had to take a back seat.
“It’s just a terrible drug,” said state Sen. Anita Yeckel (R), who got involved after meeting a young sheriff whose lungs were damaged after he accidentally inhaled toxic fumes from a discarded lab. “I don’t know of any drug that’s as addictive. There are a lot of parents who think this is like cocaine or marijuana. This is worse.”