By Nick Tabor, New Era Senior Staff Writer
Now that Kentucky is limiting the amount of pseudoephedrine customers can buy in any given month or year, methamphetamine cooks may try recruiting accomplices to buy them in batches, as they have in other states.
At Cayce’s Pharmacy, customers the workers don’t recognize have sometimes entered the store, about five minutes apart, each wanting cold medicine, Owner Mike Cayce said.
Workers have usually caught on quickly enough, Cayce said.
On Tuesday, Cayce hosted local legislators, law enforcement and members of the Kentucky Retail Federation and Kentucky Pharmacists Association.
They’re launching a campaign to educate potential “smurfers,” or people meth cooks enlist to buy cold medicine. They displayed tall, colorful posters meant to scare smurfers off. Pharmacies all over Kentucky will put them up.
“Buying Meds to Make Meth?” one reads. “Police Take Names… And Make Arrests.” It says convicted smurfers can serve up to 10 years in prison.
The other reads, “Meth Makes Children Orphans.” “If you are buying a cold and allergy medicine for a meth cook, you are committing a felony and putting someone else’s life at risk.”
The Consumer Healthcare Products Association tested these posters before printing them, according to a news release from the organization. The posters are designed to catch the attention of potential smurfers but not to alarm law-abiding customers.
Cayce’s workers won’t sell pseudoephedrine to anyone from out of state, and they try to screen everyone who’s not a regular customer, Cayce said. They have to use their own discretion.
However, the posters might help filter the patrons.
Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville; Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville; Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville; and Sen. Jerry Rhoads, D-Madisonville, gave brief remarks Tuesday about the importance of public awareness and legislation in the fight against meth.
According to Senate Bill 3, which the state legislature passed in March, customers must get prescriptions to buy more than 7.2 grams of pseudoephedrine a month or 24 grams a year. This only applies to the pill form, which is easier to turn into meth than the gel cap and liquid forms.
Robert McFalls, executive director of the Kentucky Pharmacists Association, said stores like Cayce’s are on the “front lines” of the battle against meth production.
All pharmacists can get free copies of the posters, according to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association.
For more information on the campaign or to download the posters, visit www.meth-knowtheconsequences.org.