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New Alabama Law Stops ‘Smurfing’ Process For Meth

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File photo of a man smoking out of a meth pipe.  (credit: Apolinar B. Fonseca/GettyImages)

File photo of a man smoking out of a meth pipe. (credit: Apolinar B. Fonseca/GettyImages)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A new law has taken effect that’s aimed at making it tougher for people to obtain a key ingredient needed to produce the illegal drug methamphetamine.

At the same time, the new law insures that allergy sufferers will still have access to the same substance, pseudoephedrine, which can mean the difference between clogged sinuses and being able to breathe.

The new law stops a process called “smurfing” in which manufacturers of meth ask various people to buy pseudoephedrine in small amounts from different locations. Current state law limits the amount of pseudoephedrine one customer can buy to seven grams a month. A computer database prevents a person going from store to store buying the drug.

But officials said those making meth have been getting around the law by getting several people to each buy small amounts of the drug and then sell them.

Attorney General Luther Strange said the Consumer Healthcare Products Association was launching a campaign to explain how the law works.

Strange said he sees the new law as a victory in the battle against meth, which he called one of the “most vicious” of all illegal drugs.

“Methamphetamine is a terrible drug that causes great damage to our society, but I am encouraged that we are continuing to make significant progress against it,” Strange said.

Former state Rep. Blaine Galliher, an aide to Gov. Robert Bentley, said the new law makes it illegal for a retail customer to buy pseudoephedrine for the purpose of selling it.

The drug must be kept behind the counter and may only be sold by a licensed pharmacist. Valid identification, limited to a non-suspended driver’s license, a non-driver’s government ID, a military ID or a passport, must be presented to buy pseudoephedrine.

Hamp Russell, a pharmacist at City Drugs in Montgomery, likes the new law. He said it makes his job easier when someone comes to the counter to buy pseudoephedrine.

“In just two minutes or so we know if we have the green light to go ahead and sell it,” Russell said.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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