Washington State is taking new steps to fight the meth epidemic.
Starting Oct. 15, the state will electronically track the purchase of over-the-counter medications containing ingredients used to make methamphetamine.
Currently, stores track the purchase of products with psuedoephedrine, ephedrine or phenyloproanolamine in manual logs.
The cashier will scan photo identification as well as the product. The NPLEx system will show the cashier if the person buying the medication has already bought the legal amount.
Under Washington law, a person can buy two packages of medication with pseudoephedrine or one package with no more than three grams of pseudoephedrine in a 24 hour period.
Since Washington started limiting the medication people can purchase, the number of meth labs and dumpsites have dropped dramatically, according to statistics kept by the DEA.
In 2010, law enforcement reported 44 meth lab incidents. In 2004, the year before the state enacted the rules, 944 were reported.
Mike Cooke, who has 22 years of law enforcement experience in Washington, would like to see the state follow Oregon's lead of making pseudoephedrine available by prescription only.
"The idea of limiting the product you can buy has been helpful. The tracking system may be an extra layer on top of that," said Cooke, who is also a criminal justice instructor at Portland Community College. "The reality is, short of a prescription, most people are going to do what they need to do if their intent is to make meth. A tracking system's not going to stop them."
Copyright KPTV 2011. All rights reserved.