Want Nail Polish Remover? Better Have ID at CVS

Life imitates art again. This time, it’s Breaking Bad.

CVSnailpolishremoverCVS Caremark has a new policy aimed at slowing the production of crystal meth. They’re limiting sales of nail polish remover and requiring anyone who wants a bottle to show a photo ID to a cashier. In addition, purchasers must be over 18 and may only buy limited quantities at one time.

That’s because acetone is one of the key ingredients used to make crystal meth. In a press statement, the drug store chain said

Because acetone is an ingredient used in illegal manufacture of methamphetamine, we recently implemented a policy that a valid ID must be presented to purchase acetone-containing products such as nail polish remover. Our policy also limits the sale of these products in conjunction with other methamphetamine precursors and is based on various regulations requiring retailers to record sales of acetone.

Those precursors include cold and allergy medication like pseudophedrine, also a key ingredient in this highly addictive drug. 

Although many media outlets reported this news tongue-in-cheek, crystal meth addiction is a real and growing problem in the U.S., including among high school and college students. A PBS Frontline report noted that some 1.4 million people in the U.S. are thought to be addicted.

Methamphetamine is a stimulant that is used to treat certain disorders including narcolepsy and ADHD. The illegal form of the chemical is compounded into a crystal form, a.k.a. “ice” and is considered one of the most dangerous drugs on the street, because of its inexpensive ingredients, variety of usable forms and intense highs. Why anyone would even consider using this is beyond my understanding – check out this list of ingredients used to make the drug.

Unfortunately, way too many people do – long term use can lead to extreme weight loss, anxiety, confusion, mood disturbances and violence. Hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia are frequently reported among chronic users, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. It can also lead to permanent brain damage or death from cardiac arrest or hyperthermia.

In addition to clearing store shelves, CVS has removed nail polish remover from its online store. However, other drug store chains like Walgreens, say they will continue to sell nail polish remover as usual. The product is also available at many online sites. Anyone that really wants gallons of the stuff can easily buy it elsewhere.

So the question is, can CVS’s move  have any real impact on the proliferation of crystal meth labs? Or is it just an consumer inconvenience which uses an eye dropper to fight a house fire?

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