In a welcome bit of news, the leading seller of meth-producing products in West Virginia has fallen down the list in recent months. The Walmart in South Charleston was the number one seller as of this past August, with 1,851 sales of cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine, a primary ingredient in the manufacture of methamphetamine. However, as of October, only 212 products were sold, a sharp decrease of 88%.
The reason is that the South Charleston Walmart stopped carrying Sudafed 12-Hour, which was the biggest-selling meth-producing cold medicine because pseudoephedrine was the single active ingredient. In fact, the Walmart stopped carrying any pseudoephedrine-based cold product except for Nexafed, which is considered “tamper-resistant” medication. Walmart has continued to sell other common cold and allergy products, such as Clariton-D, Allegra-D, and Advil Cold and Sinus. These medications combine pseudoephedrine with other products, making them less desirable to meth producers.
The South Charleston Walmart took action after negative reports of its pseudoephedrine sales surfaced in the news. It is not the only West Virginia retailer to do so — Rite Aid stores have also stopped selling Sudafed 12-Hour, as well as Sudafed 24-Hour. The West Virginia legislature also intends to introduce a bill that would require a doctor’s prescription before the purchase of pseudoephedrine products. The two states with laws requiring a prescription, Oregon and Mississippi, have seen the number of meth lab seizures decline steeply. Meanwhile, West Virginia law enforcement has seized 370 meth labs this year alone, with the majority being found in Kanawha County. The large number of established labs has been linked to easy access to pseudoephedrine products.
It remains to be seen whether getting rid of pseudoephedrine-based products remains the long-term solution to the meth lab problem. What is certain is that drug use, and methamphetamine production in particular, remains a big problem in West Virginia. West Virginia prisons and jails are overcrowded right now in large part because of drug convictions and “tough on crime” laws that result in large sentences for nonviolent crimes. It is not even clear whether a law requiring a doctor’s prescription is the solution, given the existence of pill mills serving West Virginia residents, where doctors will write a prescription for money, not because the patient needs it. Yet even though a determined meth producer might find ways around the imposed restrictions, they might still result in fewer meth labs and fewer drug sales, at least for the time being.
In the meantime, those who have been arrested for drug sale and possession have the right to representation by a West Virginia criminal defense attorney. If he or she is an “indigent,” or cannot afford representation, then representation may be appointed by the government. Competent legal representation may be the difference between a lengthy sentence and probation.
The Wolfe Law Firm has been providing legal services for nearly 25 years. Located in Elkins, West Virginia, the firm provides services in the areas of personal injury, criminal defense, bankruptcy, and mediation. If you are looking for an experienced West Virginia attorney, contact us today.