New law targets meth producers

Published 3:57 pm Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Recent measures taken by Alabama Legislators to limit the sale of cold and allergy medicines are having a noticeable impact on the war against meth production across the state.

NPLEx, or the National Precursor Log Exchange, is an electronic logging system used by pharmacies and law enforcement to track sales of over-the-counter medications containing pseudoephedrine (PSE), a common precursor to methamphetamine.

When someone goes into a drug store with the intention of buying a product like Sudafed or Zyrtec-D, identification is required. Thanks to the NPLEx system, this screening process now tells the person behind the counter how much an individual has purchased in the past month.

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There’s a limit to how much an individual can purchase within a certain amount of time — if they exceed that limit, then the purchase is blocked.

Officials with the Consumer Health Products Association (CHPA) said that while this system won’t completely end meth production in the state, it would go a long way towards solving the problem.

While a significant amount of meth is transported into the state, there is still some meth produced locally from purchasing mass quantities of PSE products like cold and allergy medicine, and this system has prevented people from buying more than a person might reasonably need within a certain amount of time.

In the first six months of 2012, NPLEx has blocked the sale of 100 boxes of PSE products in Butler County alone, accounting for more than 243 grams that could have been used illegally.

Several additional provisions are being made in the state of Alabama to complement the NPLEx system.

The Legislature passed a new law in April that could make Alabama one of the toughest areas of America for a meth cook, and a number of additional steps have make it very difficult for someone to produce the drug.

One of the ways meth producers have attempted to circumvent the NPLEx system is smurfing, which involves paying several individuals to buy drugs separately (as opposed to one individual making a bulk purchase).  Smurfing is now a felony under the new law.

The NPLEx system will also now track to see if a purchaser has felony convictions for drug paraphernalia.

Local law enforcement officials in Butler County and throughout the state have worked effectively to curb meth production in the area using this new system.

Greenville Police Department Chief Lonzo Ingram thinks NPLEx is a great idea.

“Anything we can do to help us get people before they start making and selling meth is always a good thing,” Ingram said. “Meth is a very dangerous drug — a lot more dangerous than people think it is.”