A new tactic in the fight against methamphetamine gives law enforcement officers new computer program to track the sale of over-the-counter drugs which can be turned into meth.
Rep. Joan Brady (R-Richland) sponsored a bill which led to the new law last year. She says the database is designed to stop people from creating a drug at home that’s dangerous to their health.
No drug use is good, and a lot of times we’re not always aware when somebody is abusing drugs. But with methamphetamine abuse, you can look at somebody’s face and you can know. It takes a drastic, drastic toll on a person who is an abuser.
The system is designed to enforce a 2006 law that only allows a person to buy nine grams of pseudoephedrine per month, or about eight boxes of decongestants like Sudafed. Any time one buys the drug, it is logged into a database that covers most stores in the state.
Whenever a person buys decongestants, the store swipes their ID to check them into the National Precursor Log Exchange. The system then tracks that person’s buying history.
Jeff Moore, Executive Director for the SC Sheriffs Association, said the database is a way to stop people from “smurfing”–or reaching their limit at one store, then moving to a different county and trying again.
You’re not going to be able to buy 10 boxes here, 10 boxes here, 10 boxes here… and then go home and cook it. We really think it’s going to shut down the illegal labs that are out there.
The database went online in January, and Moore says it has already stopped more than 5,800 illegal sales. SLED says the database will also allow them to track sales in other participating states as well, to stop people from buying across state lines.
SLED Director Reggie Lloyd said meth sales are growing in South Carolina, although its use is not as prevalent as in other states.
Just a few years ago… not a lot of us across the state of South Carolina really understood the impact and danger of meth. It was largely something that we were seeing out west, but it began to migrate its way here.
He says the database provides one way to cut off easy access to the drug’s ingredients. However, he also expressed concerns that it could lead to an increase in the amount of meth brought in from out-of-state, specifically products from Mexican cartels.