Gov. Mark Warner (D) signed an executive order Thursday that requires legal medications used in the manufacture of methamphetamine be kept behind pharmacy counters.
Warner's action also requires customers to produce identification before purchasing cold medicine that contains ephedrine or pseudoephedrine Ñ key ingredients in meth production.
"We can and must restrict access to these precursor materials before more horror stories make us realize we've acted too late," Warner said in a statement.
Until recently, meth has been primarily considered a problem for Southwestern Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley. Now, authorities throughout Northern Virginia Ñ including Loudoun County Ñ report they are starting to see increased meth use.
While some Virginia pharmacists already impose voluntary sales restrictions on the medicine, Warner's executive order makes the limits mandatory. If the General Assembly approves legislation on meth during its session early next year, it could make the new limits permanent.
Several states, including West Virginia, have also made it more difficult to purchase the cold medicine.
In Oregon, the legislature passed a law banning certain cold medicine sales without a prescription. Oregon's anti-meth measures are considered the most stringent in the nation.