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Anti-Smurfing Bill Introduced

State Representative Aric Nesbitt wants to make it harder to cook up a batch of methamphetamine in Michigan. He’s introduced legislation that would make multiple purchases of a key ingredient a felony.

One common practice used by methamphetamine “cooks” is to hire multiple people to purchase pseudoephedrine products to use in making the drug. Pseudoephedrine is the active ingredient in some over-the-counter cold and allergy preparations, but the amount customers are allowed to buy at one time is limited. By sending out multiple people and combining all their purchases, meth cooks can get the larger quantities they need. This process is called “smurfing.” The cook is Papa Smurf, and he’s sending out the other Smurfs to gather the smurfberries… only in this case, the “berries” are the small red pills containing pseudoephedrine.

The new law would make the practice of combining purchases in this way a felony. Another bill, which may be combined with Nesbitt’s measure, would also make it illegal to sell any pseudoephedrine to someone who has previously been convicted of smurfing or any drug related felony.

Other states have enacted similar legislation for the same reason. Some go so far as to make pseudoephedrine containing products a prescription item. When these laws differ between states, smurfing operations have been known to travel to neighboring states, stay a few days or a week to purchase the medications, and then return to their home state. By turning up the dial on penalties in Michigan, this should keep us from becoming a “destination state” for smurfers.

The legislation can be tracked by visiting Rep. Nesbitt’s website: http://gophouse.org/representatives/southwest/nesbitt/

While the legislation plugs one hole, meth manufacturers have dealt with similar laws in other states by moving to a “one-pot” method. This uses smaller quantities of pseudoephedrine to avoid the limits set under the law. The one-pot creates less methamphetamine and of a lower quality than other ways to cook up the drug.

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