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Senate passes bill to track meth ingredient
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State legislators are close to passing a bill into law aimed at cracking down on meth producers.
“It’s not going to be a total solution since there are some who will find a way around it,” said state Sen. Eric Stewart of the bill which he believes is a good compromise piece of legislation likely to pass into law. “We’ve worked long and hard on it.”
The bill, which unanimously passed the Senate 31-0 last week, is aimed at tightening restrictions on the main ingredient in meth, that being pseudoephedrine which is extracted from some cold medications. Pseudoephedrine was placed behind pharmacy counters in 2004 to make it more difficult for meth producers to buy it in large quantities.
However, a more efficient method to make meth, combined with a strategy where meth producers use teams, sometimes known as Smurfs, to purchase pseudoephedrine in different pharmacies to avoid suspicion, has led to a sharp increase in meth production.
The proposed law, Stewart says, addresses the new tactics and provides tracking of those who purchase cold medications containing the ingredient.
“This bill includes a tracking portion which electronically tracks purchases,” Stewart said, noting pharmacies will input daily sales of medications containing the ingredient so other pharmacists can see who has already purchased the drug.
Many pharmacies and retailers currently rely on handwritten, paper logbooks to track purchases.
Persons buying drugs containing pseudoephedrine will have to show photo ID. Along with their purchases being visible to other pharmacies, they will also be recorded by state and federal authorities who could use the records to identify meth producers and those who are helping supply meth-makers.
The proposed law also has a meth registry contained with it which would bar any person on the registry from purchasing any ephedrine product by flagging their name on the computer system.
The measure also calls for felony charges for manufacturing meth in front of children and increases penalties for meth-related offenses. A companion bill is scheduled to be heard this week in the House.