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Attorney General Bill Lockyer Announces Launch of the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement's Merchant Program

Wednesday, March 1, 2006
Contact: (415) 703-5837

(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today launched the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement’s (BNE) Merchant Program to educate retailers about the dangers of methamphetamine, how cold and allergy products containing pseudoephedrine are used to manufacture the drug, and how they can help prevent drug use and abuse by placing these products behind-the-counter.

BNE agents will visit grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, discount drug stores and other businesses that sell products containing pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient used to make methamphetamine. The program will use handouts and posters to help raise awareness among retailers, their employees and the public about methamphetamine and the effects this illicit drug has on communities.

“Methamphetamine is a dangerous drug associated with violent behavior, drug endangered children, environmental damage and drug treatment,” Lockyer said. “We can help reduce the harm caused by this drug by making it more difficult for methamphetamine manufacturers and abusers to get their hands on these cold and allergy medications.”

Over-the-counter products containing pseudoephedrine are a significant problem because they are relatively easy to obtain and a major component used in methamphetamine production. These products were found at approximately 28 percent of all methamphetamine labs seized in California in 2004.

Under California law, no more than three packages or nine grams of any product containing pseudoephedrine can be purchased in a single transaction. Illegal drug manufacturers and drug abusers often travel to numerous retailers or revisit the same retailer multiple times purchasing over-the-counter medication and extracting the pseudoephedrine to cook their methamphetamine, a process called smurfing.

A toll-free hotline has been provided by the BNE asking the public to contact their local police, sheriff’s office or the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) BNE if they suspect these chemicals are being purchased to produce methamphetamine. The DOJ Merchant program hotline is (800) 555-5916.

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