"We have not found any meth labs I'm aware of through NPLEx," said Rutherford, a former Kanawha sheriff whose brother, Johnny, is now sheriff. "To me, NPLEx is worthless."
Statewide, police agencies have reported more than 300 meth lab busts since January. West Virginia had 288 labs seized in 2012.
"Meth is the most addictive drug on the planet," said Delegate Tom Azinger, R-Wood, who's serving on the panel examining the state's meth problem.
More people are now making methamphetamine in smaller "shake and bake" mobile labs, according to police reports.
"They'll carry it around in backpacks," said Delegate John Ellem, R-Wood, a Parkersburg lawyer who's also serving on the meth study group.
Kanawha-Charleston Health Department officials said criminals often manufacture meth in rental cars and at local hotels, which must pay clean-up costs.
"There has been a major economic hit to the local hotels here," said Anita Ray, the health department's environmental director. "It's a real economic problem that needs to be brought to the forefront."
West Virginia lawmakers have twice introduced legislation -- in 2011 and 2012 -- to require people to get a doctor's prescription to buy pseudoephedrine, often sold under the Sudafed brand name. Legislators rejected the bills after drug industry representatives lobbied against the proposals.
Oregon and Mississippi are the only states that mandate prescriptions to purchase pseudoephedrine. In West Virginia, pharmacies keep the medication behind the counter, and customers must show a photo identification to buy it.
Two weeks ago, House Health and Human Resources Chairman Don Perdue, D-Wayne, asked Attorney General Patrick Morrisey to investigate how much pseudoephedrine is being diverted to manufacture methamphetamine.
Perdue also asked Morrisey to take legal action against any drug companies "responsible for engaging in that activity in the knowledge that such sales accrues to the benefit of malefactors," according to a letter sent to the attorney general.
Members of the meth study group said the addictive drug destroys families and puts the lives of children, firefighters, police officers and paramedics in danger.
"It's a public health hazard," said Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.
Reach Eric Eyre at erice...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4869.