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Guest Column: Law taking aim at meth suppliers and smurfs

6.16.2017 – Bill Schuette and Mike Bouchard, Oakland Press Opinion 

Methamphetamine and heroin are two of the leading causes of overdose deaths in Michigan. Both drugs are easy to obtain and highly addictive. As a result, too many Michigan residents have found themselves hooked on these drugs, and are now struggling to find a way to get clean and get their lives back on track.

Heroin and methamphetamine are different drugs but the techniques to get rid of them are the same: cut the supply by going after the producers and distributors, educate the public about the danger of addiction, and provide high-quality treatment and resources for those addicted and their families.

To combat the production of methamphetamine, we are kicking-off a consumer education campaign against smurfing. Smurfing is a funny word with serious ramifications. Oftentimes, meth cooks target and recruit unknowing, honest people, known as smurfs, to buy them pseudoephedrine-based medicines. Little do most people know, smurfing directly contributes to the making of meth. It is a serious crime — a felony punishable by up to five years in prison or a $5,000 fine — that neither the State of Michigan nor Oakland County will tolerate. That’s why we are raising awareness with posters where it will have the greatest impact — at the pharmacy counter.

In other cases, the smurfs are meth addicts who are willing to do anything to avoid the pain of withdrawal symptoms. The easiest way for most people to gain access to opioid-based painkillers is from a friend or family member. A simple offer of leftover pain killers from a past surgery can lead to a lifetime of addiction. So even if you have never been asked to buy medications for someone else, you can help end this problem by refusing to share leftover medicines and dispose of them properly.

Read more here.