MAKING METH : New legislation could deter meth labs


Purchase a cold remedy that contains pseudoephedrine and your name appears on an electronic meth-tracking system accessible to law informant agencies.

Try to purchase more than the law allows in a 30-day period and the system will disallow the purchase.

Pseudoephedrine is the main product in the production of meth. Most of the other products used to make the drug can be substituted or tweaked, but pseudoephedrine is an irreplaceable component, according to Columbia Police Det. Tracy McCarol.

The tracking system keeps meth producers from buying an unlimited supply of the needed ingredient, but it doesn’t stop them from finding others to buy the product for them.

Some states have now passed laws that require prescriptions for cold products containing pseudoephedrine, and Kentucky legislators have proposed a number of bills to restrict purchases.

State Rep. John “Bam” Carney said the bills are generating some controversy between law enforcement and law-abiding citizens who use the products.

McCarol and Columbia Police Chief Jason Cross said legislation to restrict the sale of the drug without a prescription could have a dramatic affect on the number of meth labs in the area.

McCarol and Cross said they support legislation to tighten control of pseudoephedrine.

“You are going to lower the amount of meth and you are definitely going to lower the number of meth labs,” McCarol said.

According to the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a joint drug task force in this region, police found more than 1,100 meth labs in Kentucky last year.

Even so, users of products such as Sudafed have voiced their opposition to new restrictions. Carney said around 90 percent of the calls he has received has come from constituents who want him to oppose any bills that require prescriptions.

“The people who are for it have not mobilized,” he said.

Senate Bill 50 would require a prescription for the purchase of any tablet containing pseudoephedrine. It would not affect liquids. Senate Bill 80 would prohibit anyone convicted on any meth-related drug charges from purchasing the cold medicines. There are other bills but Carney said the Senate bills are most likely to move forward.

He doesn’t expect any bills on any issue of any significance to move forward, however, until the redistricting issue is settled in the courts.

By Sharon Burton

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