James HowellStaff Writerjhowell@civitasmedia.com
December 26, 2012
After six arrests were made following a two-year investigation into trafficking methamphetamine in Ashe County, new questions arise about how to fight the rampant drug problem, both in Ashe County and in North Carolina.
According to Lieutenant Grady Price, Ashe County’s narcotics investigator, two meth labs in Ashe County were seized by authorities in 2012. Along with the two seized labs, various other arrests have been made for trafficking methamphetamine.
However, the effects of trafficking methamphetamine haven’t been felt in Ashe County like in other areas of North Carolina.
As of Dec. 10, law enforcement has busted a record high 444 meth labs across North Carolina, according to the State Bureau of Investigation.
Wilkes County, Ashe County’s southeastern neighbor, had 58 meth lab busts, easily leading the state. The county with the second highest amount of meth lab busts is Wayne County with 27.
“We’re not having the same problems that they (Wilkes County) are,” said Price.
This problem begs for solutions, and on Wednesday, Dec. 12, a legislative panel in Raleigh suggested that cold remedies containing pseudoephedrine require a prescription.
Pseudoephedrine, along with other common household products, is a primary ingredient for methamphetamine.
Keeping pseudoephedrine out of the hands of people wanting to use the chemical to make methamphetamine isn’t new.
In 2005, N.C. lawmakers ordered the state’s pharmacies to place medicine containing pseudoephedrine behind the counter, making them more difficult to acquire.
Also, the N.C. General Assembly House Bill 12 was passed and ratified on June 16, 2011. The bill is titled “Stop Methamphetamine Labs” and increased regulation on 777 different products containing pseudoephedrine.
The bill “requires that, prior to the sale of pseudoephedrine products, retailers with Internet access must electronically submit required information into the National Precursor Log Exchange and must not complete the transaction if the system generates a stop alert. The submission is in addition to the existing regulation of the sale of pseudoephedrine products.”
However, this inconvenience for the customer has done little to prevent the manufacturing of methamphetamine. The 444 meth lab busts in 2012 is 100 more than the previous record, set in 2011.
The legislative panel only proposed cough remedies become prescription drugs, and no legislation has been written.