A new way to fight methamphetamine in Illinois could be further restricting the sale of cold medicines like Sudafed. Right now, drugs containing pseudoephedrine are available behind the pharmacy counter only to customers who produce a photo ID and sign it out. A bill sponsored by State Sen. Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) would make the drugs prescription-only.
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The over-the-counter drug is a key ingredient in making meth. “We'll use Oregon as the test case,” says Koehler. “They have substantially reduced their meth activity to just about nil.” Steve Buckstein of the Cascade Policy Institute, a “libertarian” organization based in Portland, Ore., says most of the decline came under a law similar to what Illinois has now – behind the counter. He says an unintended consequence of the prescription law has been the rise of a Mexican drug cartel shipping the drug to Oregon.
“If people want it, someone else will break the law to supply it,” says Buckstein. Of his state, “Meth abuse has not gone down,” he says. “Meth lab abuse has gone down.”