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Decline in meth labs locally

There has been a steady decline in meth labs found in Alabama since the Alabama Legislature passed some of the nation’s toughest anti-meth laws in 2012.

Two years after the passage of these laws, the data for 2014 shows the continual success of these laws at preventing the production and use of meth around the state.

The National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI) reported that in the first seven months of 2014 there were 44,953 blocked sales of pseudoephedrine (PSE). This kept more than 110,896 grams of PSE out of the hands of people who could have intended to use them to manufacture methamphetamine.

According to National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx) data, in Franklin County in 2013, 436 boxes of PSE sales were blocked. This kept over 1,300 grams of PSE from potentially being used in meth production in Franklin County.

These sales were blocked by the NPLEx system, which is required to be used by all pharmacies in Alabama and most states in the country. NPLEx is the electronic point of purchase monitoring system that restricts the sale of certain cold and allergy medicines containing pseudoephedrine (PSE), a key ingredient for manufacturing meth.

“Alabama is a model for states seeking to be tough on meth criminals while maintaining access to PSE for law abiding citizens,” NADDI executive director Charles F. CiChon said.

“Alabama has reported a dramatic decrease in the number of meth lab incidents statewide.”

Law enforcement offices around the state are seeing the impact from these new laws as the number of meth lab seizures continue to decline statewide. According to a report by the Alabama Drug Task Force, meth lab seizures in the state dropped over 78 percent from 720 in 2010 to 154 in 2013.

“The drug task forces from around the state have been so successful at reducing meth production in Alabama thanks to the support of pharmacists around the state,” said AJ Jongewaard with the Consumer Healthcare Products Association.

“I’ve met with law enforcement officers from around the state, and they are thrilled with the impact the NPLEx system and new laws have made. It is important that citizens understand these new laws and how they are helping their communities. Citizens need to know that smurfing, buying PSE for someone who intends to make meth, is now a felony.” 

The data released by NADDI shows a 15.59 percent decrease in the number of PSA boxes sold from 2013 to 2014, with a decrease of 12.95 percent by individual purchasers. By preventing meth production from even beginning in the state, thousands of taxpayer dollars are being saved on the costly cleanup of meth labs. The hazardous chemicals used in meth production can cause explosions in homes and severe burns.

Alabama’s comprehensive anti-meth bill includes features such as:

·  Establishment of a drug offender database;

·  Enhancement of the drug paraphernalia laws to allow prosecution of intent even if PSE is absent;

·  Reductions in the monthly allowable amount of PSE that any one person can purchase;

·  Establishment of a felony change for anyone convicted of being involved with smurfing;

·  Restitution of expenses incurred in prosecution of meth labs;

·  Crime of “smurfing” is now a felony charge in the state of Alabama.

The Alabama Drug Abuse Task Force reports that most meth currently available for sale in Alabama is higher-grade crystal methamphetamines, also known as “Ice”, which is manufactured in Mexico or California and smuggled into the state by Mexican drug cartels or other traffickers. According to the officials, this imported meth accounts for upward of 80 percent of all meth currently seized throughout the state.