Meth lab "epidemic" could affect future purchases of cold medicine

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - What authorities are calling a meth epidemic is taking center stage in Charleston this week.

meth labs sprouting all over south Carolina.

"We are in the middle of a meth lab production epidemic in our state," said Lt. Max Dorsey with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

SLED is one of the agencies participating in a national conference in Charleston. More than 200 law enforcement officials from all over the country are sharing ideas on how to tackle the meth problem.

"It's a dangerous issue, it's a scary issue but it's already affecting us," said Dorsey.

Authorities say part of the problem is meth is easy to make.

"If you can follow the cookie recipe on toll house cookies, you can make meth, that's how simple it is, within about an hour's time with the ingredients," said Marshall Fisher, director of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics.

The ingredients include the cold medicine Pseudoephedrine, that can be bought at pharmacies.

Fisher said a law passed in Mississippi now requires a prescription to buy Pseudoephedrine, and because of that law, fewer meth labs are being found.

In fact, they've only busted one lab so far this year.

That's down from 147 during the same time frame three years ago.

"Pseudoephedrine is the root of it. If we can do something with Pseudoephedrine nationwide, we would solve a problem overnight," Fisher said.

But police admit meth labs are not going away, including the now popular mobile ones that are found in hotels and cars.

"You never know when you're going to be in a hotel or stay the night where there was a lab the previous night. You never know when you're gonna be driving down the road and a lab is in the car next to you," said Dorsey.

SLED busted 538 meth labs, most of them mobile in our state last year.

That's more than double the 267 meth lab busts in 2011.

A bill has been introduced in the South Carolina Senate that would require a prescription to purchase Pseudoephedrine.

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