Friday, October 10, 2008

Sudafed Security

I bought some psuedophedrine at the drugstore yesterday (I've got a nasty head cold that doesn't want to go away), which meant I had to have my driver's license scanned and sign a statement saying that I'm not going to turn it into Methamphetamine.

Which got me to wondering: have those new hoops had an effect? Are they effective, or just slightly annoying?

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, methamphetamine use is down about 50% since 2005. So it looks like it is working. Although the crackdown might be having some unintended consequences:
Over the last few years, the methamphetamine market has
moved from being a cottage-type industry (with many small-scale manufacturing operations) to more of a cocaine- or heroin-type market, characterized by a higher level of integration and involvement of organized crime groups that control the entire chain from the provision of precursors, to manufacture and trafficking of the end-product. For example, Asian organized crime groups operating in Canada reportedly receive significant precursor shipments from Asia, which are then manufactured into methamphetamine and ecstasy-group substances. These same criminal groups then reportedly smuggle the finished product into the USA but also to a growing international market outside of the region.
Source: Amphetamines and Ecstasy, 2008 Global ATS Assessment

Oh, and then there's this:
"Although some may conclude that there is a reduced availability for methamphetamine, the fact that our data show an increase in amphetamines suggests that some workers might be replacing one stimulant drug for another in the larger drug class of amphetamines," said Barry Sample, Ph.D., Director of Science and Technology for Quest Diagnostics' Employer Solutions division.
Or maybe they've been switching to oxycodone (the data shows that more people started using oxycodone in the last two years than stopped using meth).

So, if the Asian drug lords manage to ramp up production to replace all the out-of-business backyard meth labs, and meth use rises back up to pre-sudafed-security levels, do you think we'll be allowed to buy cold medicine without showing ID again?
UPDATE: According to the data: it disrupted the supply... for about 18 months.

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