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There are no instant solutions to meth use

West Virginia suffers one of the worst prescription drug abuse problems in the nation. Unscrupulous doctors set up pill mills that dispense prescriptions like candy.

And like the rest of the nation, West Virginia also suffers a crystal methamphetamine problem. Unlike Western states that import their meth from Mexican druglords, West Virginians prefer home brew.

This poses a myriad of problems ranging from fire when the labs explode to child abuse.

Police officials also call in hazmat crews to clean up the sites, which is expensive.

Like all drug problems, as long as demand is high, law enforcement faces an uphill climb.

But this does not stop legislators from concentrating on supply instead. For almost a decade lawmakers debated controlling an ingredient in crystal meth, pseudoephedrine, which also is an ingredient critical to some cold and allergy medicines such as Sudafed.

One side insists that requiring prescriptions to buy these over-the-counter drugs is the only way to stop crystal meth, ignoring the fact that pill mill doctors will simply add pseudoephedrine to their catalog.

The state has tried other measures that have worked.

In 2005, the Legislature moved these cold remedies behind the counter. This year, the industry began using a more complex system of tracking Sudafed-D purchases online and on time.

This still has not satisfied the people who insist on prescriptions. After six months, they declared the system a failure and renewed their push for prescriptions.

This debate is distractive. The state has many issues to tackle, such as reviving the economy, funding road construction, and as always, education.

Besides, pseudoephedrine is an ingredient, not the problem. Blaming crystal meth addiction on pseudoephedrine is like blaming arson on gasoline, or

obesity on food.

However, industry can do better.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., publicized Fruth Pharmacy's switch to Nexafed, a new cold and sinus drug that its manufacturer says is almost impossible to make crystal meth.

The problem with drug addiction is the addicts. The state has tried to reduce supply with rules on Sudafed. A demand side approach is overdue.


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