Thursday, February 05, 2009

Crowell: Bill would aid in battle against meth

In his latest Capitol Report, Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, writes about SB 160, which he says will help in the battle against methamphetamines:

Recently, 17 people were arrested in Sikeston on methamphetamine-related charges and three meth labs were seized. This is just another instance of rising methamphetamine production in our area and throughout the state. This destructive and deadly drug has been a problem for too long in our communities. Law enforcement officials have been asking the Legislature to pass tighter restrictions on pseudoephedrine, and I have filed a bill to begin the discussion to answer this call.

Senate Bill 160 would change the scheduling of ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, and phenylpropanolamine to be a Schedule III controlled substance. Schedule III drugs require a prescription to be obtained. Certain dietary supplements, herbs, or natural products that contain naturally occurring ephedrine alkaloids would be exempt from the new classification. The Department of Health would also have the ability to exempt any product containing ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, or phenylpropanolamine if it is formulated to prevent conversion of the active ingredient into methamphetamine.

Pseudoephedrine is a necessary ingredient in order to make meth. In 2005, we passed legislation requiring that pseudoephedrine and ephedrine be kept behind the counter at pharmacies. We also made sure that all sales of these substances had to be logged and that consumers were required to show a photo ID. The law had a positive effect, and the number of meth labs went down. However, law enforcement has recently noticed that more people are finding ways to circumvent the law and buy these products to manufacture meth.

One of the most dangerous aspects of meth is the way it is produced. The cooking process can be extremely hazardous because at one or more stages, the solution needs to be heated, producing toxic fumes and the chance of explosion. When law enforcement officials go into a home to clean up a meth lab, they wear contamination gear to avoid exposure to the toxic gases involved in the process. The chance of explosion and fumes from toxic ingredients makes meth labs a hazard to the children and neighbors of meth producers.

Sheriff John Jordan of Cape Girardeau County, who is also the director of the MOSMART (the Missouri Sheriffs’ Methamphetamine Relief Team) Project, has been closely engaged in the battle against clandestine methamphetamine labs, and has been an important influence in the crafting of SB 106. The legislation has also received support from law enforcement professionals throughout the state.

Meth is a drug that destroys lives, families, and communities. This is why we must continue the strong measures we have taken to try to eradicate the drug from our state. This work will also benefit from the vigilance of Southeast Missouri citizens. If you suspect methamphetamine production in your area call 1-888-823-METH (6384) to report it.

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