Drug Policy

Shockingly, Anti-Meth Laws Have Had Unintended Consequences


An A.P. investigation into the fallout from those meth fighting laws that restrict the sale of cold medication has turned up results that "surprised" law makers and law enforcement officials:

But an Associated Press analysis of federal data reveals that the practice has not only failed to curb the meth trade, which is growing again after a brief decline. It also created a vast and highly lucrative market for profiteers to buy over-the-counter pills and sell them to meth producers at a huge markup.

In just a few years, the lure of such easy money has drawn thousands of new people into the methamphetamine underworld.

"It's almost like a sub-criminal culture," said Gary Boggs, an agent at the Drug Enforcement Administration. "You'll see them with a GPS unit set up in a van with a list of every single pharmacy or retail outlet. They'll spend the entire week going store to store and buy to the limit."

Inside their vehicles, the so-called "pill brokers" punch out blister packs into a bucket and even clip coupons, Boggs said.

In some cases, the pill buyers are not interested in meth. They may be homeless people recruited off the street or even college kids seeking weekend beer money, authorities say.

But because of booming demand created in large part by the tracking systems, they can buy a box of pills for $7 to $8 and sell it for $40 or $50.

The tracking systems "invite more people into the criminal activity because the black market price of the product becomes so much more profitable," said Jason Grellner, a detective in hard-hit Franklin County, Mo., about 40 miles west of St. Louis.

"Where else can you make a 750 percent profit in 45 minutes?" asked Grellner, former president of the Missouri Narcotics Officers Association.

Since tracking laws were enacted beginning in 2006, the number of meth busts nationwide has started climbing again. Some experts say the black market for cold pills contributed to that spike. Other factors are at play, too, such as meth trafficking by Mexican cartels and new methods for making small amounts of meth.

The AP reviewed DEA data spanning nearly a decade, from 2000 to 2009, and conducted interviews with a wide array of police and government officials.

Meth use was also up 34 percent in 2009. So the new laws are inconveniencing law-abiding people who want to treat cold and allergy symptoms, have had either zero or a positive effect on meth use, have lured new people into the meth trade, and have created a bigger market for smuggling meth and meth ingredients into the country from Mexico.

But perhaps we should go easy on the politicians who passed these laws. I mean, it's not like anyone could possibly have predicted any of this.

NEXT: About That Supposed American Renaissance Link....

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  1. Foreseeable consequences are not unintended.

  2. If all drugs were legal, would people still use meth?

    1. It probably never would have been invented if drugs were legal.

  3. This exact phenomena is even covered in Breaking Bad.

    1. Yes, I used the plural form of the noun. In before the grammar clowns.

      1. It should be “these exact phenomena.”

        1. sorry, it looks like you are recognizing you made a mistake, I think.

          1. “Sorry” should be capitalized and your first comma should have been a semicolon. 😉

            1. Maybe he was talking to me, jerk.

      2. “Thoses exact pheromones was covered with Newcular Titties”


        1. I prefer the magical titties of Sarah Palin.

          1. Mmmmmmm!!! Yes – me too, also.

          2. I prefer the magical murderous titties of Sarah Palin.

            1. My bust….er, my bad.

            2. Like the killer sex-bots in Austin Powers?

              1. Her nipples are crosshairs.

                1. Crepe paper crosshairs.

          3. I prefer all titties, magical or otherwise…

            1. I’d have to concur.

      3. If you make enough stupid mistakes the grammar nazis leave you alone. This is one instance when going full retard is very handy.

  4. Radley wrote – “…have had either zero or a positive effect on meth use, have lured new people into the meth trade, and have created a bigger market for smuggling meth and meth ingredients into the country from Mexico.”
    ur conclusions are impossible given the data since uve no idea how the meth market would’ve grown if nothing had been done.

    1. Fucking english, how does it work?

      1. be sure to tell us…

        1. Sorry, OhioOrrin, but you can only answer if you’re a juggalo.

    2. Ahh, the “what would have happened” argument. It’s fast becoming the new Drug Warrior standby. They can’t point to any actual positive outcomes of their preferred approach, so they posit hypothetical madness without a shred of evidence.

      1. try again. radley was the one reaching conclusions w/o data. for all i know he’s correct but its an impossible conclusion to reach. scientific method isnt a strong suit for wingnuts.

        1. Try again. Radley is pointing to changes in meth use and production trends since the new federal “precursor” laws have gone into effect. This depends on a before and after picture, not on a hypothetical scenario.

          1. the “before” data is before the meth market grew. AFTER this growth in use, OTC meds were restricted. so radley has no true data AFTER the meth market exploded but before the restrictions. radley assumes…

            1. So you are saying that the Meth market explosion was 2009? I could have sworn this drug had been around for about 2 decades.

            2. the “before” data is before the meth market grew.

              Dude, weak. Politicians and media scare stories were talking about the “explosion” in the meth trade years before any federal limits on OTC pre-cursor purchases. In fact, there was very good evidence that the mom-and-pop cooker trade was declining in favor of Mexican mass producers before any of these restrictions were put in place. In other words, this:

              AFTER this growth in use, OTC meds were restricted.

              is simply wrong.

              At least show up with some cogent arguments instead of pedantic crap about scientific method that has no application to the discussion.

        2. Shift key. Look into it, fuckwit.

          1. dont txt huh? no surprise…

            1. don’t think much? no surprise…

              1. if u quit yelling ur name maybe someone who cares might listen.

                1. MATT DAMON

                  1. Fuck yeah! I lol’d

                2. I don’t really care if you listen or not…you are a spare part in the warehouse bin of life

            2. Keep the fucking txt spk to fucking txt msgs and use English.

              1. didnt realize u were the boss of me. my bad…

                1. lol me too!

              2. ur just mad cause he can txt and you cant cause its 2002 apparrntly

                1. Sarcastic?

    3. Ohio’s approach makes it impossible to evaluate any action, since we cannot know what would have happened if nothing had been done.

      1. its called scientific method.

        1. I scientifically reject your hypothesis. P’wned!!!!!11!one!!

          1. You forgot to throw in some derps for good measure.

            1. herp derp, it’s for the children

        2. No it is not.

        3. Oh, I see. So we just need a control counter-factual universe. Well, thanks for clearing that up.

          1. no, one needs data, in this universe, to draw valid conclusions. radley has none & assumes.

        4. Not enough observations to draw inferences from, experimentation to create observations is difficult from practical and ethical perspective.

    4. I knew I could count on someone to point out the fallacious nature of the argument. I myself was too distracted by the fact that it appeared to have been written by Ke$ha.

      1. Why distracted? SAhe have ginormous hooters?

        1. Had no idea who it is, though I have heard the name. A quick Google search shows it is some dude in drag.

          1. crap…you recall the “follow the money” advice? I prefer to “follow the hooters”

    5. Your comment appears to have inflamed Reason posters’ anger at the “it could’ve been even worse” argument. Of course who knows how much worse this outrage might’ve been had you said nothing. Overall, therefor, you’re comment has had a calming effect.

      1. that’s true for extremists on any site ive ever been to.

        1. Cut back on the cock.

        2. That doesn’t make any sense. Were you having trouble finding a way to use the extremist smear in context with the conversation so you just made up a sentence at random with the word in it?

    6. I’ll start believing your statistics and modeling prowess and taking your assertions seriously when you learn how to type a decent fucking sentence. (That’s coming from a guy who can barely string a set of words into a sentence w/o fucking something up.) Until then you are relegated to the the retard rickshaw, where you shall remain until you manage to prove otherwise.

      1. the only assertion i made was that the author didnt have th data to reach his conclusion. oh & ur profanity & vulgarity is much worse than txting.

        1. I fucking beg to fucking differ.

        2. No it’s not you donkey cum chugging, chicken raping, helmet wearing, drool bib donning fucktard.

          1. wow a new high in lows. congrats…

            1. You have no idea the depths to which my lows are capable of reaching.

              1. ur correct, i dont. but my middle schooler will help me w understand ur intellect.

            2. Where did these argumentative high schoolers come from? Must be trolling from the 1000 comment train wreck.

        3. the only assertion i made was that the author didnt have th data to reach his conclusion

          Your assumptions are in error about both the hypothesis and the data –

          The original hypothesis was “restricting access to over the counter medicine will restrict the supply of methamphetamine, driving up the cost and driving use down”.

          This hypothesis was tested by restricting access to over the counter medicine. The outcome of this test was that the price went down, use is flat or up. The hypothesis is refuted by the experimental evidence.

          You posit alternative explanations for the observed data, but the original hypothesis (one posited by the feds, not by the author) is clearly inconsistent with the observed data. This is how the scientific method works. Pose an hypothesis. Propose an experiment to test the hypothesis. Evaluate the results of the experiment.

          Testing your revised hypothesis (that meth use would have radically increased if access to over the counter drugs were not restricted) would be very difficult at this point in time.

    7. The burden of proof should be on the government making the change. They said this would hurt the meth trade — how did they make this assertion measurable and testable?

      They didn’t. In the absence of clear criteria, they allow Radley to offer his own criteria.

      As much as we make fun of Obama for stimulus failure, he did (at least) offer a criteria for judgment.

    8. I respectfully ask that you spell the fucking word “you” in future posts. Are those two extra letters so fucking hard to find on your keyboard? Did you really use “uve” instead of you’ve? Its a fucking contraction dipshit, for a minute there I thought you were talking about Uwe Boll.

  5. Yeah, as a user of Primatene? and/or Bronkaid? on a regular basis (less-regular since I quit smoking – yay!), I love the TSA-pat-down treatment.

    At least I can BUY it when I’m in Ohio for work – can’t get it at ALL in Michigan. So, I stock up when I’m on the road, etc. etc. etc.

    So, I’m undoubtedly on some “Breaking Bad” watchlist…..cause I sometimes wheeze when I’m around my dogs and cats too much, and this shit actually WORKS so I can breathe again.

    Fucking statist pukes…

    1. You could get a $10 box of the stuff anywhere in the past. Now you might not be able to. But to make up for your inconvenience the government will give you thousands of dollars in health care that ten dollars of somewhat illegal pharmaceuticals will clear up.

    2. I’ve use bronkaid for both running and the ephedrine to curb diet. OH GOD I’M A DRUGGIEEEEE!!!! I know of athletes that do this all the time.

      The sad thing is ephedrine sulfate is not nearly as effective as just plain ephedrine. Not to mention all the other shit you’re required to ingest because the government outlawed pure ephedrine. (even though getting it, like just about every other drug, is pretty fucking easy)

      1. The running use is because of sinus issues and running in the mornings when it’s damp and cold. I almost always end up with a chest full of shit once a week because of the cold damp air.

        1. When I ran cross country and track (that was before I smoked…for like, 25 years….) I didn’t need it much, cause I was so in shape.

          Now that I’m old and fat….meh. I use it fairly regularly – similar symptoms to what you describe. At least I quit smoking.

          Now to lose the weight – and the ultimate goal —-> run 10K’s again 🙂 Then I figure I wont’ need the Bronkaid/Primatene, and I can get into the meth bidness—-> PROFIT!

          1. It isn’t the shape issue. I have no issue running, but after wards I get a pretty decent buildup of flem in my chest if I run early morning. I’ve always had sinus issues. If it’s cold and dry it doesn’t bother me, but cold and damp and I can cough up some impressive lung oysters. I have no issue running and my times don’t suffer, just a fucked up and abused body I guess. It got worse when I was working with chainsaws and dust and never really got much better.

            It works fairly well as a weightloss tool, ephedrine always has. It’s a shame you have to tie it to the sulfates and other shit instead of just use it outright since some assclown decided it was illegal.

            1. I’m at just under 2 10ks a day. General 4.5 to 5 miles a day in two runs (hill/easy, pace/easy, or sprints/easy for the two) and one long run on the weekend of about 2 hours or 25% of my weeks total. Shooting for a fall marathon with a decent time.

              1. *respeck!*

      2. “Pure ephedrine” — what, the free base?

        I’m just bugged they took ephedrine-theophylline combinations off the market.

  6. The solution is to just make the laws tougher. Perhaps a background check before allowing a person to buy these medicines or lowering the allowable limits. The number one rule right now is that no controls can be loosened.

    1. a new law requiring a backgropund check before you get a cold.

  7. The guy behind the Ohio law concerning the restrictions on cold medicine was interviewed a few months ago about his law not working as promised.

    No “I’m sorry.” No “Let’s change the law back.”

    Just a “Yea, we obviously need to do more.”


  8. I think the pigs and legislators damn well new that these law were going to be completely impotent. The pigs just wanted them passed as a work guarantee program to keep them, judges, and lawyers in business.

    1. Lawyers make laws for the purpose of creating work for lawyers.

  9. If only they knew that you don’t need a license to practice chemistry.

  10. Thanks, Alert Citizen, for catching that. We’ll get on Congress’ agenda straight away to rectify that oversight!

    1. That was @ mick 2:43 – thanks, Mick!

  11. make sure yall yell real loudly into the echo chamber.

    1. Oh god. He said echo chamber. Here comes MNG and John.

    2. Can anyone translate this for me? I don’t speak full retard.

      1. I don’t speak retard either, but I’m guessing his head is empty. So maybe he wants us to yell into his ear?

      2. i could try but middle school, gutter talk aint my thing.

        1. Damn gutter talk!!

        2. early 21st cntry txting is – lol kthxbai!

          1. thx nother?

            1. Who would have thought that one day communicating like a 12 year old girl would be seen as a badge of honor.

              Mike Judge is the prophet, bow before him.

    3. Drugs are bad mmmmkay…

      Meth is bad mmmmkay…

    4. turn your head sideways and I will

    5. Would that be the echo chamber that is your gourd like head?

    6. Obvious troll is obvious.

  12. I love the inevitable “the uptick in meth busts and meth use means our tactics are working!” quote in the article.

  13. Does anyone know if the 34% meth use increase resulted in an overall sales increase?

    I took it for granted that any legitimate user of cold/allergy drugs would rather boycott the system than fill out the form, and I had hoped it would eat enough into big pharmas profits to stick a few 100k into someone’s freezer. I guess I’m the only one doing this, although it saves money for me personally.

  14. I love collective buying!!! Want to get food at the lowest prices? Then the place is called “Printapons” find them online

    1. Unfortunate ad-bot is unfortunate.

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