Pubdate: Wed, 03 Aug 2005
Source: Tucson Citizen (AZ)
Copyright: 2005 Tucson Citizen
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Congress is coming to the rescue in the battle against the nation's 
methamphetamine epidemic, which has a profound effect on crime in Tucson 
and elsewhere.

The Senate Judiciary Committee last week endorsed a bill that would require 
sales of pseudoephedrine be made just from behind the pharmacy counter. The 
drug is a key ingredient in making meth.

Consumers would have to show a photo ID and sign a log. They would be 
limited to 7.5 grams, or about 250 pills, every 30 days.

The bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Jim Talent, 
R-Mo., comes in stark contrast to the watered-down law enacted in Arizona 
this year.

The Arizona Legislature caved to retailers and passed a meth bill that 
would not require buyers to sign a log, a key provision that enables 
tracking of customers who try to exceed the limit at other stores.

Not to worry, though. Under the federal bill, states may adopt and enforce 
their own rules provided they are at least as strict as the federal law.

In two concessions to resistant retailers, senators agreed that stores 
without a pharmacist could work with the Drug Enforcement Administration to 
license nonpharmacist employees to sell the medication. Airport stores 
could sell single packages of the medicine.

Pseudoephedrine is in popular cold and allergy medicines, including Sudafed 
and Nyquil. Consumers still can obtain the drug in gel caps and liquid form 
without going through a pharmacist. Only the tablet form is suitable for 
making meth.

Amid the epidemic posed by this most addictive, accessible and inexpensive 
drug in modern times, Oklahoma became the first state to enact strong 
legislation, which was the model for the federal bill.

Now Oregon is taking the war on meth a giant step further. Lawmakers there 
gave final approval Monday to a law that would require a doctor's 
prescription for such cold and allergy medications.

Meanwhile, Walgreen Co. - without admitting to any wrongdoing - agreed to 
pay $1.3 million to settle claims that it failed to monitor 
over-the-counter sales of the drug in violation of state and federal laws. 
Walgreen also will spend $1 million to monitor purchases.

The anti-meth movement is swelling across the country, as citizens and 
lawmakers recognize the link between meth sales and use and other crimes.

FBI statistics show Tucson leading the nation in property crime, with much 
of that fueled by meth. Last week, about 200 people attended a meeting of 
the new Meth Free Alliance, where law enforcement, religious and other 
community leaders exhorted residents to join in grass-roots efforts to 
eradicate the drug.

We salute the Senate Judiciary Committee and Oregon for taking serious 
steps to quell this epidemic and for doing what the Arizona Legislature 
would not. We urge Congress to approve the federal bill and President Bush 
to sign it into law.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom