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Meth Laws: Five Years Later

Pete Springer/OPB

The Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act (CMEA) was signed into federal law on March 9, 2006. The law regulates over-the-counter sales of medicines containing essential ingredients used to make meth: ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. It sets daily and monthly purchase limits, requires ID verification for purchase, and mandates retail sales logbooks to keep track of who is buying the medicine. The law also requires reporting for import, export and international transactions involving ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.

In July 2006, Oregon went further than any other state when it re-classified pseudoephedrine and ephedrine as prescription drugs.

Five years after the meth laws were enacted, we look at their effectiveness to combat an epidemic of drug addiction and crime. Unlike any state in the country, Oregon has seen the most dramatic decline in meth-related crime. The Multnomah County Sherriff’s Deputy who produced the landmark photo series, “Faces of Meth” estimates that jail bookings on meth charges in Mutnomah County have dropped from 27 percent to around 5 percent. The author of the law that re-classified certain cold medicines as prescription drugs reports that as a result, smurfing (pdf) — purchasing large quantities of cold medicine for manufacturing meth — has been virtually eliminated in Oregon.

Now that meth has declined in Oregon, authorities are shifting their focus to the root causes of addiction.

Do you have experience with meth or know someone who has? How have the last five years since the laws passed impacted the meth epidemic in Oregon? What do you want to know about the root causes of addiction?


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