When you sign your name to buy certain cold medicines, no one might ever look through the log that Texas stores are required to keep to aid the battle against methamphetamine, reports the Austin American-Statesman. Two years after the Texas legislature made it harder to buy Sudafed and other over-the-counter medicines containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine – key ingredients of meth – many police and sheriffs’ agencies don’t have time to check the logs, most of which are kept on paper.
Several law enforcement officials said the lack of a centralized database, for which the legislature did not provide funding, means they can’t punch in a name and see how often an individual is buying the cold medications in stores around Texas. Even if the logs aren’t checked, law enforcement officials say the law has sharply cut meth lab production. In addition to the logs, the state law, along with a 2006 federal law, limits how much of the medicines a person can buy and requires that the drugs be kept behind the counter. Many stores have stopped selling the medicines, in part because the state now requires outlets that lack a pharmacy to pay a $600 registration fee for the right to sell the products for two years. Out of up to 40,000 stores the state estimated to be in that group, only about 300 paid the fee. Still, the state has seized 302 kilograms of meth during traffic stops in 2006, up from 159 kilos the year before and 197 in 2004. Law officers said meth from Mexico is filling the void created by the seizures of homegrown labs. And because demand for the drug remains high, the price of meth is going up.