The main ingredient for meth will be more accessible in January 2022

Pseudoephedrine is used to treat cold symptoms. But it's also the main ingredient in methamphetamine.

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – The number one ingredient used for making meth will be available without a prescription in January.

Pseudoephedrine is used in products like Sudafed to treat cold symptoms.

This is a decision made by Mississippi lawmakers during the last session.

794. That’s how many meth labs that were working in Mississippi back in 2010. Lowndes County Sheriff Eddie Hawkins said when he worked at the State Bureau of Narcotics, his department was overwhelmed.

“Our agents across the state were out working methamphetamine labs every night, which took them away from working the drug trafficking organizations that were importing the drugs into Mississippi,” Sheriff Hawkins said.

So, to put a stop to the meth labs in the state, a law was passed. In July of 2010, it was no longer possible to have access to pseudoephedrine without a prescription.

Without access to the ingredients, the meth labs went away. State law enforcement shut them down and focused on rounding on dealers.

But the law was repealed. And, that, Sheriff Hawkins said will hurt Mississippi’s economy.

“When we find a meth lab, we have to deal with all kinds of stuff. From the hazardous waste to the chemicals involved in this, how to collect the samples to process this evidence, get it to the crime lab. When we find a child living in a drug endangered environment like this, now we have to remove that child and put them in foster care. All that comes at a cost to Mississippi,” Sheriff Hawkins said.

Hank Norwood is a pharmacist at Allegro Plaza in Columbus. He said customers are still going to have to go through a process to get the medicine.

“There’s still going to be some limitations in the purchase of it. The patient will probably come in here and they’ll show them their driver’s license, we’ll scan that driver’s license into a national registry that will screen to see how much Sudafed that patient has bought.”

While Norwood said there will be some restrictions with purchasing pseudoephedrine, Sheriff Hawkins said meth labs will still become more common in the state.

“With this new legislation repealing that law and placing it back across the counter to where someone can walk in and purchase this without a prescription is only going to increase the effects of us seeing more meth labs across the state of Mississippi,” Sheriff Hawkins said.

“The law really worked so I’m really confused on that part of it when it was working and now we’re going to go back to it again. We have other cold medicines, they have the phenylpropanolamine. Sudafed made a new product itself that doesn’t have the pseudoephedrine but it has the phenylpropanolamine as a decongestant,” Norwood said.

All pharmacies will have the Nplex system to help track all purchases of pseudoephedrine.

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