Opinion: Thanking W.Va. law enforcement for combatting the drug epidemic

By Bridget Lambert

President, West Virginia Retailers Association

West Virginians know that the drug epidemic facing our state is a complex problem to solve. It can be all too easy to think that these challenges are insurmountable, especially when those making a real difference are not always front-and-center. The scourge of meth that plagues our communities is no exception.

While most of the meth now found in West Virginia is illegally smuggled in by dangerous Mexican drug cartels, the remarkable decrease in the production of domestic meth is a big win notched by our law enforcement officers and their partners in the community. Given National Police Week occurred May 12-18, now is the perfect time to congratulate our local law enforcement professionals on their hard-fought victories and thank them for their hard work and the great strides they have made in the fight against meth.

In 2013, our state legislature implemented the National Precursor Log Exchange – or NPLEx – which strengthened the West Virginia law enforcement community’s alliance with our retail pharmacies in combatting local meth production. 

Many people have already seen NPLEx in action, even if they aren’t familiar with the name. In order to buy common cold and allergy medicines like Zyrtec-D and Sudafed, West Virginians must show an ID and sign an electronic record book. This runs their purchase through NPLEx in real time. 

If a customer goes over their daily or monthly limit, NPLEx automatically blocks the sale, keeping the medicine out of the hands of potential criminals. The NPLEx log entries generated at retail pharmacies give our law enforcement officers a powerful database that they can use to catch people who have gamed the system. Embracing this technology has undoubtedly kept home-cooked meth off the streets in recent years.

Some pharmacies are even putting on educational campaigns warning people of the consequences of “smurfing” – buying medicines for someone that plans to misuse them to make meth. While putting posters up in pharmacies does not take the same type of courage as working on the front lines to free our communities from the scourge of meth, it is one effective way that our members are able to help make our police officers’ jobs a little bit easier.

While each of us cannot solve the complicated problems facing West Virginia on our own, all of us can take a moment to thank a law enforcement officer for their hard work every day to make our cities and towns safer, especially from meth and other drugs.

So, on behalf of West Virginia’s retailers, I want to say “thank you” to the brave men and women in our law enforcement community. Your dedication and sacrifice make our state a better place, and we are proud to partner with and support you in this critical fight against meth. 

—  The West Virginia Retailers Association was founded in 1942 by merchants concerned with advancing and safeguarding the well-being of the retail industry. The Association is recognized by merchants, legislators, state officials, and other trade groups as the spokesman for the retailing industry.

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