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Methamphetamine Solution (Frontline)
Old 01-26-2012, 05:56 PM   #1
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Methamphetamine Solution (Frontline)

I watched a Frontline episode on methamphetamine. What I learned was, that unlike a drug like marijuana, you cannot make meth without ephedrine or psuedoephedrine. Since only large drug manufacturing plants can make those ingredients, meth production/use can be easily controlled by controlling access to those compounds. That is how quaaludes were essentially eliminated.

When Oregon passed a law requiring a prescription for ephedrines, meth busts went down by 96%.

The drug manufacturers have fought this, since they make billions from cold medications.

The show was very convincing, but I was surprised that it first aired almost six years ago -- so not much has been done to pass similar laws elsewhere.

Seems like a no-brainer solution to a serious problem (that affects everyone) -- are the drug companies really this powerful, or am I missing something?

The Meth Epidemic - Video | FRONTLINE | PBS
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Old 01-26-2012, 06:09 PM   #2
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You're not missing anything Al. Did you notice the other night during the State of the Union address when the President said he'd sign a bill that would put an end to insider trading among members of Congress. Not too much clapping or standing on that one. So I would guess they will handle a Drug Company the same way. Just too much money involved.
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Old 01-26-2012, 06:10 PM   #3
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No, you are not missing anything, the drug companies are that powerful. All one has to do is look at the food conglomerates and their powerful control over the government regulators.
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Old 01-26-2012, 06:17 PM   #4
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Even if prescriptions aren't required in all states, you still have to buy products containing pseudophedrine (like Claritin-D, which I take) directly from the pharmacy in limited amounts and be added to a registry so your drivers' license can be checked every time you buy it. It's a federal law. It's not any easier to get than having a prescription.

Synthetic marijuana is the big thing being tackled now--people will always find something else.
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Old 01-26-2012, 06:51 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
When Oregon passed a law requiring a prescription for ephedrines, meth busts went down by 96%.
If we had a similar law like that here in California, perhaps more tragedies like this could be avoided: Fresno mom very high on meth before family killing

It makes me glad that my biggest vice is a glass or two of 2 Buck Chuck. For my small investment, I get a couple of hours of slightly-stupefied happiness, quickly followed by a nice long nap.
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Old 01-26-2012, 07:01 PM   #6
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Even if prescriptions aren't required in all states, you still have to buy products containing pseudophedrine (like Claritin-D, which I take) directly from the pharmacy in limited amounts and be added to a registry so your drivers' license can be checked every time you buy it. It's a federal law. It's not any easier to get than having a prescription.
Does that prevent someone from driving from store to store and city to city buying the limit at each location? I realize it should, but is the registry updated quickly enough?

If not, you can visit a new drug store every 15 minutes in Los Angeles, and you could hit 32 in 8 hours. Each smurf buys three packages, or 135 pills, at each store. Get 10 smurfs, and that's over 43,000 pills.
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Old 01-26-2012, 07:12 PM   #7
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Does that prevent someone from driving from store to store and city to city buying the limit at each location? I realize it should, but is the registry updated quickly enough?

If not, you can visit a new drug store every 15 minutes in Los Angeles, and you could hit 32 in 8 hours. Each smurf buys three packages, or 135 pills, at each store. Get 10 smurfs, and that's over 43,000 pills.
I have no idea.
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Old 01-26-2012, 08:36 PM   #8
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The statement that methamphetamine can only be made from ephedrine or pseudoephedrine is patently false. There are many other routes they just require more skill and/or access to other controlled precursors.

Reductive amination of 1-phenyl-2-propanone with monomethylamine is one such route. P2P and MMA are also controlled by the feds so this route is problematic for illegal labs as well.
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Old 01-27-2012, 07:09 AM   #9
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The statement that methamphetamine can only be made from ephedrine or pseudoephedrine is patently false. There are many other routes they just require more skill and/or access to other controlled precursors.

Reductive amination of 1-phenyl-2-propanone with monomethylamine is one such route. P2P and MMA are also controlled by the feds so this route is problematic for illegal labs as well.
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Old 01-27-2012, 09:01 AM   #10
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I don't like the idea.

So because a tiny percentage of the population has a problem, now millions of people have to waste time scheduling a doctor's appointment so that they can get their cold medicine? When you count up all the physician's hours, physician's staff hours, transportation time, we're probably talking about an annual societal cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Psuedoephedrine is the only thing that allows me to breath easily when I have a cold. When I need some I just put on my coat and walk 5 minutes over to wal-greens 24 hours a day. With this change I'd have to wait until the next non-holiday weekday morning, schedule a doctor's appointment (which not everyone has the luxury of being able to do), drive there, wait, be seen, get the prescription, and then go to wal-greens and wait an hour behind everyone else with a prescription.

I think the registry, as it is, is a good idea. I have no problem with them writing down my driver's license number if it makes it more difficult to manufacture meth. That's only a tiny inconvenience. But requiring a prescription is a huge inconvenience. Especially for someone without health insurance or in a rural area far from their doctor. Or someone who can't drive and relies on public transit. Taking a bus, in the winter, while you're sick, is not fun.

And it seems to me it won't solve the problem. If tracking how much pseudophedrine people buy isn't working, then how will prescriptions help? They already have all the information they need to stop people who are stock-piling pseudophedrine. Adding another hurdle to jump over won't stop the drug producers, where there's a huge financial incentive, they'll find a way. But it will inconvenience millions of people who just want some cold medicine.

And if a drug addict can't get his meth. Then he'll just switch to something else that gets him high.

I think like most drug prohibition, this punishes responsible people for the sake of irresponsible people. Each regulation punishes hundreds of people who are doing no harm in order to protect a couple of morons from themselves.
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Old 01-27-2012, 09:25 AM   #11
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Personally I agree with glippy, because the "on-the-shelf" substitutes for pseudoephedrine help me about as much as a sugar pill and it is a safe and effective medication like so many other over-the-counter drugs. (I don't mind the registration part.)
But this problem is getting much worse in terms of impact - I saw a version of this story earlier in the week.

Meth fills hospitals with burn patients

My guess is that relatively small numbers of pills are needed for one "shake-n-bake" so I'm not sure that even prescriptions would eliminate the problem - we certainly hear a lot about prescription drug abuse as it is.

The whole thing is very tragic, such a waste of resources and lives. Sad.
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Old 01-27-2012, 09:28 AM   #12
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I don't like the idea.

So because a tiny percentage of the population has a problem, now millions of people have to waste time scheduling a doctor's appointment so that they can get their cold medicine? When you count up all the physician's hours, physician's staff hours, transportation time, we're probably talking about an annual societal cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Psuedoephedrine is the only thing that allows me to breath easily when I have a cold. When I need some I just put on my coat and walk 5 minutes over to wal-greens 24 hours a day. With this change I'd have to wait until the next non-holiday weekday morning, schedule a doctor's appointment (which not everyone has the luxury of being able to do), drive there, wait, be seen, get the prescription, and then go to wal-greens and wait an hour behind everyone else with a prescription.

I think the registry, as it is, is a good idea. I have no problem with them writing down my driver's license number if it makes it more difficult to manufacture meth. That's only a tiny inconvenience. But requiring a prescription is a huge inconvenience. Especially for someone without health insurance or in a rural area far from their doctor. Or someone who can't drive and relies on public transit. Taking a bus, in the winter, while you're sick, is not fun.

And it seems to me it won't solve the problem. If tracking how much pseudophedrine people buy isn't working, then how will prescriptions help? They already have all the information they need to stop people who are stock-piling pseudophedrine. Adding another hurdle to jump over won't stop the drug producers, where there's a huge financial incentive, they'll find a way. But it will inconvenience millions of people who just want some cold medicine.

And if a drug addict can't get his meth. Then he'll just switch to something else that gets him high.

I think like most drug prohibition, this punishes responsible people for the sake of irresponsible people. Each regulation punishes hundreds of people who are doing no harm in order to protect a couple of morons from themselves.
A BIG +1 on this....

The cost of the drug to the person with a cold is very cheap... making all the citizens pay for Dr. vists just to get a $5 cold medicine is just plain stupid...

The thing that was not on the show is that they are getting their base ingrediant in other ways... and they can also get it from other countries...

Maybe if we stopped spending a lot of money keeping these morons alive when they OD or putting them in expensive rehab programs that we know do not work, we will have less of them... we are preventing Darwin's theory from doing its job...
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Old 01-27-2012, 09:47 AM   #13
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It's the old argument of how much we as a society should do to try and help people save them from themselves isn't it?

If an individual is dead-set on a particular course of action, then eventually they will get their way, and no amount of prohibitive legislation will stop them.

It's the folk who make the occasional bad judgement that we can help IMO, but it sure does make it harder on those who have been responsible all along.
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Old 01-27-2012, 09:52 AM   #14
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Tulsa, OK (KOKI) - An Oklahoma woman was arrested for allegedly mixing chemicals needed to make meth inside a Walmart. She reportedly told police she was too broke to buy the chemicals.

Shoppers had no idea the woman was suspected of cooking meth inside the Walmart while they were inside.


Oklahoma woman accused of cooking meth inside Walmart | ksdk.com
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Old 01-27-2012, 10:05 AM   #15
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"So because a tiny percentage of the population has a problem...,"
I would agree 100% with you if that were true, but if the show is correct, a large proportion of the population is affected by crime directly related to meth use. If you've ever had your wallet or purse stolen or your house broken into, you may be a casualty of meth, at least in the areas in which it is prevalent.

I'm sure your doc would subscribe Sudafed over the phone. Much less trouble than canceling your credit cards.

Quote:
And it seems to me it won't solve the problem.
Quote:
...They don't need pseudoephedrine or ephedrine...
If those things are correct, you have to explain why meth busts went down 96% after the law was enacted in Oregon. Meth-related arrests went down 32%.

http://www.politifact.com/oregon/sta...b-seizures-an/
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Old 01-27-2012, 11:04 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
Does that prevent someone from driving from store to store and city to city buying the limit at each location? I realize it should, but is the registry updated quickly enough?

If not, you can visit a new drug store every 15 minutes in Los Angeles, and you could hit 32 in 8 hours. Each smurf buys three packages, or 135 pills, at each store. Get 10 smurfs, and that's over 43,000 pills.
I know in my area that only the big box chains are linked (to each other) as far as how much has been purchased. It is updated quickly if electronic, never if it is paper.
So it would be easy to go to Wal-Mart, then Target, Walgreens, Costco, K-Mart, Smith's, etc to get the max at each store. There is also a chain of grocery stores with pharmacies in the state that only write down the information in a big notebook. So theoretically you could hit every store in that chain (about 10) without any problems.

Now having watched Breaking Bad, I have noticed that there are ways around using pseudo-ephedrine as Chemist noted.
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Old 01-27-2012, 11:12 AM   #17
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..a large proportion of the population is affected by crime directly related to meth use.
Crime related to drug use is generally a direct result of prohibition. If drugs were cheap and readily available, addicts could support their habits without resorting to crime.

I'd rather save the time and money we spend making drugs expensive and hard to get, and just allow them to be cheap and readily available, and use a fraction of the saved money for drug education and rehabilitation.

Portugal has already gone about half-way down that road for about the past ten years with promising results.
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Old 01-27-2012, 11:12 AM   #18
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I would agree 100% with you if that were true, but if the show is correct, a large proportion of the population is affected by crime directly related to meth use. If you've ever had your wallet or purse stolen or your house broken into, you may be a casualty of meth, at least in the areas in which it is prevalent.

I'm sure your doc would subscribe Sudafed over the phone. Much less trouble than canceling your credit cards.




If those things are correct, you have to explain why meth busts went down 96% after the law was enacted in Oregon. Meth-related arrests went down 32%.

PolitiFact Oregon | Oregon district attorney says meth lab seizures and meth-related arrests both down considerably since 2006

Per Wiki:

The National Drug Threat Assessment 2006, produced by the Department of Justice, found "decreased domestic methamphetamine production in both small and large-scale laboratories", but also that "decreases in domestic methamphetamine production have been offset by increased production in Mexico." The report concluded that "methamphetamine availability is not likely to decline in the near term."[137]


I would bet that the reason that Oregon had the big decline is that it was easier to cook in California or Washington and just ship it there... and it still does not prevent it from being produced in Mexico...

If someone wants to get high, they will get high... if not from meth from something else...

As for your other example of it affecting people because of other crime, are there stats to show that other crime dropped And if so by how much IOW, is the cost to the average citizen cheaper after this law or before this law....
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Old 01-27-2012, 11:20 AM   #19
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Crime related to drug use is generally a direct result of prohibition. If drugs were cheap and readily available, addicts could support their habits without resorting to crime.

I'd rather save the time and money we spend making drugs expensive and hard to get, and just allow them to be cheap and readily available, and use a fraction of the saved money for drug education and rehabilitation.

Portugal has already gone about half-way down that road for about the past ten years with promising results.
+1 Ron Paul is correct on this one.
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Old 01-27-2012, 12:03 PM   #20
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wow ... just watched .... so I am fighting a cold and had "cold meds" on the grocery list.

I think I'll just ride this one out - thanx Al.

On a related note, I spent 2 weeks in grand jury duty. We indicted over 300 cases/criminals. Over 90% of the cases were related to prescription drug abuse.
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