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Meth Tracking System Impeding Police Investigations

A 2005 law placed several restrictions on the sale of pseudoephedrine, an over-the-counter cold medicine used in the production of the illegal drug methamphetamine. The law requires consumers to show identification and sign a log book recording their purchase. In theory, this was supposed to keep anyone from buying more than 100 pills, or 3 grams, per week as stipulated by the law.

An electronic tracking system that limits purchases of pseudoephedrine in Indiana has blocked the sale of more than 57,000 boxes of medicine in its first six months. But the system may still not be as beneficial as legislators may have hoped.

The electronic database was implemented on January 1st to help Indiana police and pharmacists track the sale of common cold medicines that can be used to produce methamphetamine.

The National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators, is a non –profit group that works with states to stop drug abuse. Charlie Chichon is the organization’s executive director. He says the tracking system allows law enforcement to view purchases within seconds, notify retail stores when a person has reached their legal limit and block them from purchasing it.

“We’re seeing that thousands of boxes in every state are being blocked and I think that’s very significant information,” he says. “We believe that these boxes would possibly be going to make and manufacture methamphetamine.”

Chichon says the legal amount is more than enough for the average person even if they need pseudoephedrine on a daily basis for something like allergies.

Michael Toles is a Sergeant in the Meth Section for the Indiana State Police. Though the purpose of the system is to prevent an unlawful distribution of these drugs, Toles says it is actually making it harder on law enforcement because they used to be able to use information on who purchased pseudoephedrine to find those who were actually manufacturing and distributing the methamphetamine.

“Even though they were misdemeanors, they were a good tool that we could use to further our investigation and to get charges on people and to follow up with further investigations which often resulted in A and B felony cases of manufacturing and distribution of methamphetamine,” he says.

Toles fears the tracking system will only force those involved to find a new way to get around the system so they can continue to purchase the drugs. He says the nation has already seen an increase in identify theft and an increase in the number of people involved in the meth scene who are being paid to purchase these drugs.

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