Three potential non-toxic inhibitors have been identified that can eliminate the use of anhydrous ammonia in the production of illegal methamphetamines, according to a recent update provided to the Agricultural Retailers Association by a team of Iowa State University researchers.

The Agricultural Retailers Association was instrumental in the passage of legislation establishing federal penalties for theft of anhydrous ammonia for producing the illicit drug methamphetamine. The federal legislation capped a two-year effort by ARA to address the growing problem of theft of anhydrous ammonia.

The federal legislation, signed late last year, imposes felony penalties for theft or transport of anhydrous ammonia across state lines for use in the manufacture of methamphetamine. It also provides authorization of $500,000 to allow Iowa State University to continue its research into the development of inert agents that would eliminate the usefulness of anhydrous ammonia as an ingredient in the production of methamphetamine.

The ISU researchers are looking for compounds where only a small amount
Catalytic of material will be necessary to stop the reaction. In order to have a successful inhibitor, the material must inhibit the meth reaction, it must be stable in ammonia for months, it must be compatible with farm machinery and must not adversely affect farmland. To date the ISU researchers have identified three potential inhibitors - two catalytic organometallic ones and one stoichiometric one. Testing of these three inhibitors is in progress. Once the compounds pass the hurdle of inhibiting the actual meth reaction, it may be about eight months before the compounds become available.

“The problem of illegal methamphetamines has affected all of America, from the urban to the rural areas,” said Floyd Gaibler, ARA’s vice president, governmental affairs. “ARA has been proud to lead the efforts to make the drug virtually unusable, and we are very pleased at the ISU research and findings.”