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Michael Hicks: No End To Meth Scourge In Sight

3.26.15 – Michael Hicks, Howey Politics Indiana

MUNCIE – Using data from two other states, the results of a proposed prescription-only pseudoephedrine policy are clear.

Earlier this month, my colleagues Srikant Devaraj and Karthik Balaji­and I published a study on the benefits and costs of eliminating over-the-counter cold medication (pseudoephedrine) in Indiana. This is a policy issue because these medicines are used to cook meth, a scourge of communities across the country.

We are sympathetic to legislative efforts to keep these drugs off the street. Meth destroys many lives, and it has taken hold so quickly that there is a legitimate argument to experiment with any policy that will reduce its use. It is not unlike the early lesson I learned as an infantry lieutenant. If you are caught in a close ambush by the enemy you might as well charge them directly as there’s no time to mull over other options.

Fortunately, two other states have already charged this enemy, so we have the makings of a natural experiment into the impact of making the ingredients for meth into being prescription only drugs.­ In 2006 Oregon prohibited over-the-counter purchases of meth ingredients, and Mississippi followed suit in 2010. Studies of the experience of both states have already been published, and the results are remarkably strong but discouraging. These laws had no impact on meth use in either state. In fact, the data on meth cases in both states is so clear that they could not have come to any other conclusions.

Read more here.