Law enforcement fears new law will allow meth labs to come back

A new law allowing allergy medicines that contain pseudoephedrine to be sold over the counter has some in law enforcement worried about a meth lab comeback.
Published: Jan. 7, 2022 at 7:36 PM CST
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Now that allergy and cold medicines with pseudoephedrine no longer require prescriptions, law enforcement officials fear it’s just the beginning of a long nightmare they haven’t had in a decade. A return of meth labs in our state.

Harrison County Sheriff Troy Peterson once busted meth labs for a living.

He and others pushed hard to shut them down through the 2010 state law that controlled pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient in making meth.

“It’s the only law I’ve ever seen that has actually eliminated a problem. When you take a law and change it and you have 800 meth labs in a year, and you go to zero, that means something’s working.”

But since Jan. 1, a new law allows allergy medicines that contain pseudoephedrine to be sold over the counter once again.

Peterson believes meth labs will make a comeback. But when they do, his office is ill-prepared. It no longer has any special equipment or training to clean up those meth labs when they’re busted. It’s like going back to square one.

And the cost is high. A 20-ounce bottle of meth, Peterson said, is about a $5,000 cleanup.

“Who’s going to pay for that cleanup?” he said. “The grant money that we used to use for cleanup is not there anymore.”

Peterson said the only option left legally is to charge a person with two or more precursors to make meth.

But, he said that will just put more people in jail.

So far, pharmacies like Beach Pharmacy in Gulfport, haven’t seen big sales in allergy medicines.

But when they do, they are ready. Staff members sell the products behind the counter, and they have a computer program that keeps up with how much is sold to a single person.

“And if they get rejected, they don’t get it,” said pharmacist Larry Krohn w, Beach Pharmacy. “I liked it on prescription, but since they’ve gone over the counter, at least we’ve got a way of making sure we’re not selling it to the wrong people.”

And it makes it easier for those with legitimate reasons to purchase the product.

“It’s going to be super convenient for everyone,” said Diamondhead resident Cheryl LeMasters. “I know there has to be some controls set in place because it is abused. So, as long as people are taking it for the right reasons, it’s a win-win.”

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