Missouri has led the nation in meth lab busts, and Illinois is not far behind. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says neither state has adopted stricter laws for obtaining meth’s key ingredient, pseudoephedrine. The laws are credited with helping Oklahoma and Oregon see the biggest declines of meth labs of any states. In Missouri and Illinois, all that addicts have to do is sign paper logs that are often too cumbersome for police to check. Missouri is set to strengthen oversight, but police worry meth cooks will cross state lines to buy supplies.
Congress passed a 2005 law limiting pseudoephedrine purchases to 9 grams every 30 days. That’s roughly two 15-dose boxes of 24-hour Claritin D or six 24-dose boxes of Sudafed. Missouri and Illinois then passed laws authorizing only licensed pharmacies to sell the products. Anyone buying pseudoephedrine products had to show ID and sign paper logs kept at pharmacy counters. Elected leaders from both states touted the laws as the panacea to the mom-and-pop meth labs – and the laws did help. From 2005 through 2007, Missouri’s lab totals were nearly halved. Illinois’ dropped about 60 percent. Missouri still ended 2007 with 1,189 busts – more than double any other state’s. Illinois was fourth with 342. One law enforcer says that now, “smurfers,” who buy for meth makers, “just go from store to store to buy pills.”