Pubdate: Tue, 06 Sep 2005
Source: Asheville Citizen-Times (NC)
Copyright: 2005 Asheville Citizen-Times
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


The North Carolina General Assembly took a number of momentous actions that 
had been a long time coming in the final days of its 2005 session last 
week. With two opponents absent, one sick and the other on his honeymoon, 
the Senate passed a lottery bill already approved by the House. And, after 
much negotiation and some compromise, the House agreed to an increase in 
the cigarette tax, from 5 cents a pack, the lowest in the nation, to 30 
cents now, increasing to 35 cents next summer.

But, if the results in North Carolina are similar to those in other states, 
nothing the legislature did during its 2005 session will have a more 
significant impact than the passage of a law that requires cold and allergy 
tablets containing pseudoephedrine and ephedrine, two ingredients used in 
the illegal manufacturing of methamphetamine, to be sold from behind a 
pharmacy counter.

Methamphetamine labs have become a scourge in North Carolina. It's not 
enough that the highly addictive drug ruins the lives of those who use it, 
the manufacture of the drug threatens the health of children living in 
homes where labs are set up, the safety of neighborhoods where such houses 
are located and even the workers at landfills where the hazardous waste 
from the labs often ends up.

Pseudoephedrine or ephedrine, found in common cold and allergy medicines, 
is an essential component in the manufacture of meth. The new law, passed 
by the Senate in April and by the House last week, puts all tablets 
containing pseudoephedrine, such as Sudafed and Claritin, behind the 
pharmacist's counter and requires customers to show photo identification 
and sign a log to obtain the medication. The law restricts purchases to 
nine grams a month without a prescription. The liquid and gel forms of the 
medicines are not restricted by the law because there has not been any 
evidence that they are used in the manufacture of meth.

Sen. Walter Dalton, D-Rutherford, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, 
said he did so because he had seen the effects of the drug. Rutherford 
County has been among the counties with the highest number of meth lab busts.

"Because of the problem we've had, I have truly seen the devastating 
effects of meth. It's highly addictive, it's easy to get the ingredients 
and that was part of the problem," he said.

N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper also deserves credit for his advocacy of a 
strong bill to restrict the sale of drugs containing pseudoephedrine or 

We commend Sen. Dalton and the attorney general for the role they played in 
making the new law a reality, along with the other Senate and House members 
who supported it.

After a law similar to the one passed by the North Carolina legislature was 
implemented in Oklahoma the number of meth lab busts decreased by 80 percent.

Here's hoping that happens in North Carolina and there's every reason to 
hope that it will.
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MAP posted-by: Elizabeth Wehrman