DESOTO COUNTY, MS (abc24.com) - It's been about two years since Mississippi passed stricter laws regulating the sale of drugs used to make meth. Since then, there have been fewer meth lab busts in the Magnolia state. While the number of labs has decreased, meth use hasn't.
Mississippi has one of the strictest laws in the country. Customers must have a prescription from a doctor to buy anything with pseudoephedrine at a pharmacy.
While the law has helped cut down on the illegal purchase, those making meth are still finding ways to get the drugs.
"People would try to come here who really weren't sick to try to seek pseudoephedrine products." Pharmacist Patrick Parish has seen fewer fake drug purchases since Mississippi passed harsher meth laws.
"A lot less riffraff as far as people coming through the door. Now people who want pseudoephedrine are actually sick. They've been to the doctor and have a prescription for it."
That was lawmakers' goal. But from a law enforcement standpoint, the new standards aren't putting a stop to drug use.
DeSoto Sheriff's deputies say instead of large labs, meth is now being made in smaller batches, like a two liter soda bottle.
The biggest tell in finding a meth lab is trash. Since cooks are making smaller batches, they're using less trash, so labs are less noticeable.
Deputies add the drugs to make meth are also easily purchased across the state line. In Tennessee, buyers must show an ID.
"Anyone can get the products that walks into a pharmacy," Parish says.
DeSoto investigators say the state's law does have some positive effects. Overall safety risks like explosions and fires from bigger labs have gone down. So have expensive clean up costs.
But instead of putting a stop to the drug use, the laws have merely made it inconvenient for addicts and cooks -- and legitimate customers.
"People come in here all the time complaining. They're sick," Parish says.
"What if you don't have insurance? Or you can't schedule an appointment or don't have enough time?" asks Saralyn Durrett. "You want to run in and grab some cold medicine and it's a hassle."
Two other states have prescription only purchase policies. Missouri and Oregon have also seen decreases in meth lab accidents.