The battle against drugs - specifically methamphetamine - is a tough fight for law enforcement. The ingredients to make the drugs are readily available, relatively inexpensive and apparently, it's fairly easy to manufacture. Given these factors, law enforcement is often like a dog chasing its tail - it just goes in circles.
But this week a convenience store operator in Kansas City was sentenced to nine years in prison for his role in providing one of the ingredients in the manufacture of meth. That should send a strong and clear signal to those who "legally" sell these ingredients. If you know or have a belief that the ingredients are being used to make meth, don't sell the product! That's pretty clear.
I have long held the belief that the way to attack the war on meth is by targeting those who sell the ingredients. If a store has a customer who buys an extraordinary supply of ingredients used in the illegal drug making, then don't sell the product and tell police of your suspicions.
The convenience store operator in Kansas City is the extreme case. He was selling huge amounts of pseudoephedrine knowing full well the purpose of those sales. Most cases are not nearly that clear-cut. But I've written before about standing in line behind a woman who purchased a case of butane materials used in drug making. In that case, the store clerk didn't bat an eye. I questioned the clerk and she knew as well as I did what the materials would be used for. And that is part of the problem.
I don't want to shift the burden of drug enforcement to the retail level of store operations. But when stores knowingly sell the ingredients to someone for illegal purposes, then there should be some system of checks and balances.
Many stores are removing meth ingredients from their shelves or putting them in places where shoplifters cannot steal them. That's a smart move. But it needs to go one more step and place a responsibility on the store owner as well. It will not solve the problem but it may make is more inconvenient and more difficult to obtain the ingredients that are killing so many and ruining so many families.
In war, you take all appropriate steps to win. And when it comes to meth, we're at war.