Lansing, MI - It's a combination of new legislation and a real-time tracking system that has cut down on "smurfing" in Michigan - the process of buying cold medicines in bulk that contain ephedrine or pseudoephedrine and using those ingredients to produce methamphetamine.
"They take something legal and turn it into something illegal," says Michigan House of Representatives Communications Manager Lauren Bogema.
New laws from this year have cut down on this meth trend. Michigan has seen 7.3% fewer boxes of these medications purchased between January and July this year.
"It's closing legal loopholes and but it is also adding stiffer penalties," says Bogema.
New laws allow Michigan law enforcement and pharmacies to track cold medicine purchases using "NPLEx." When you buy medicines containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, your identification information is put in the tracking system. If you are over the purchasing limit for these products, NPLEx alerts the pharmacist and the sale can't be processed.
"It keeps law enforcement and the pharmacies more in the know and better able to track these purchases," says Bogema.
Paired with Representative Amanda Price's Public Act 216 that makes buying medication for meth a felony, there is less smurfing statewide. Public Act 216 is working with other laws that create more punishments for meth production or smurfing involvement.
"It is just showing that this real-time tracking is actually having some real results," says Bogema.
All of this is in hopes of stopping the smurfing trend most prevalent in Southwest Michigan from becoming even more popular across the state.
"This is a problem that could unfortunately spread," says Bogema.
Legislators, however, plan to stay vigilant.
"It is always an ongoing battle," says Bogema. "You pass legislation and then unfortunately the criminals find a way to circumvent it, but...it shows that...this is a step in the right direction."
More more information on NPLEx, visit http://www.nplexservice.com/.