In the eight months since Texas began requiring some cold and allergy tablets to be sold behind pharmacy counters, about half as many people are cooking cheap methamphetamine, reports the Houston Chronicle. The appetite for “speed” has remained high, with more expensive and, in some cases, purer imports taking up the slack. In the year before the law took effect, a regional task force was busting an average of four clandestine meth labs a month. Since the restrictions on pseudoephedrine began Aug. 1, the monthly average is fewer than two.
The new law allows people to buy two boxes of pills at a time, but they must show identification and sign for the purchase. Statewide, lab seizures are down by an even larger margin: from 345 in 2003 to a current average of 10 a month, or 120 a year. Texas’ law is modeled after Oklahoma, which in the spring of 2004 became the first state to put pseudoephedrine tablets behind pharmacy counters. Last year, 35 other states imposed restrictions, says the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws. “We had immediate gains, drops of 50 percent in labs and other states saw that,” said Mark Woodward of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.