Some law enforcement officers estimate as much as 80 percent of the pseudoephedrine sold in West Virginia goes to illicit methamphetamines labs. If so, that information probably would affect how state policymakers attempt to battle what has become an epidemic of drug abuse in our state.
No one really knows with certainty how much pseudoephedrine goes to cold and allergy sufferers and how much is diverted to the illegal drug trade, however.
Earlier this summer, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey was asked to investigate the matter. Noting state law bars him from revealing any "formal investigations," Morrisey did not respond to the request from House of Delegates member Don Perdue, D-Wayne.
Now Perdue is making another request. He wants Morrisey's office to begin an "inquiry" into diversion of pseudoephedrine to meth labs.
Complicating the issue are two lawsuits filed by Morrisey's predecessor, former Attorney General Darrell McGraw. Both actions are against pharmaceutical companies alleged to have contributed to the drug abuse crisis.
Morrisey has been painted into something of a corner. Because of the lawsuits and state law on discussing investigations, he is very limited in what he can say, even to the extent of providing general information about how much pseudoephedrine is being diverted from legitimate use. That information alone could be part of any investigation Morrisey's office is involved in - or germane to the two lawsuits,
Still, the information Perdue wants is exceedingly important. Surely some means of providing it, or at least informed estimates, can be found.
Morrisey and legislators should work together to accomplish that.