Drug investigators called yesterday for tougher regulations on cold pills, saying the curbs would be a powerful weapon in the fight against Missouri’s methamphetamine epidemic, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. A panel of police officers at a state anti-meth conference in Kansas City demanded that some common cold pills be classified as regulated narcotics available only at pharmacies. Missouri Gov. Bob Holden, who organized the summit, endorsed the effort.
At issue is pseudoephedrine, an ingredient in more than 80 over-the-counter remedies sold just about everywhere from gas stations to groceries. Pseudoephedrine is a key ingredient in most recipes for meth, the illegal stimulant often called ice, crystal, or crank.
Last year, Missouri toughened regulations on how much pseudoephedrine a store could sell to an individual customer. Meth cooks now must shop at dozens of stores to get the thousands of pills they need to make even a few ounces of meth.
Some police officers want even tougher restrictions, citing the explosive increase in small meth labs throughout the Midwest. Although most of the nation’s meth is made at a small number of large drug labs in Mexico and California, Missouri and the states it borders accounted for more than half of the meth-lab raids and related seizures last year.
Police concede that more regulations would inconvenience shoppers but they say it’s the only way to shut down the thousands of small, makeshift meth labs scattered throughout the state. “We have an epidemic, and epidemics call for drastic measures,” said John Jordan, sheriff of Cape Girardeau County.