Pubdate: Thu, 29 Sep 2005
Source: Asheville Citizen-Times (NC)
Copyright: 2005 Asheville Citizen-Times
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Bookmark: (Opinion)


North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley signed into law Tuesday a bill 
putting cold caplets and tablets that contain ephedrine or 
pseudoephedrine off the shelves and behind the counter of the pharmacy.

It's a good move in response to a bad situation.

The ingredients in those medicines are used in the manufacture of 
methamphetamine, a drug that is fast becoming the plague of our times.

We have in the past issued dire warnings about meth. It is 
dangerously and immediately addictive and leaves a wealth of 
dangerous toxins behind in its manufacturing process. That process 
also brings with it the threat of explosions and can poison children 
in the vicinity.

It's nasty stuff, a plague that is spreading like wildfire, 
particularly here in Western North Carolina. In 1998 a total of nine 
meth labs were busted in North Carolina. Last year the tally was 322, 
and this year's toll stands at 263.

A number of brand-name medications are used in the meth process. To 
purchase those drugs, a person will have to be 18 years of age or 
older, show ID and sign a log at the pharmacists' counter; purchases 
will be restricted to two packs of the drugs at one time, and further 
restricted to three packs over a month.

The legislation doesn't affect popular gelcap and liquid medications, 
or medications made for children.

It's a strict step, but strict steps are called for.

Gov. Easley said, "This bill puts North Carolina on the map as a 
zero-tolerance methamphetamine state. This bill will save a lot of lives."

N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper put it bluntly: "Meth labs are 
destroying communities and families ... if the criminals can't get 
the key ingredient, they can't make the meth."

Meth is harming our families and our communities. If we simply sit 
back, we are at risk of losing an entire generation.

We hope the new law, modeled after laws passed in Oklahoma, Tennessee 
and Iowa, will yield results similar to those achieved in those 
states, where the number of labs has fallen dramatically.

It's a fight we can't duck.

It's a fight we can't lose.

The new restrictions starting Jan. 15 are modeled after similar laws 
in Oklahoma, Tennessee and Iowa, where the number of busted labs fell 
dramatically since they took effect, apparently as the ingredient 
dried up. Virginia and New Jersey also recently have approved similar 
sales restraints.

MEDICINE RESTRAINTS: Gov. Mike Easley signed into law a bill that 
will require cold and allergy tablets and caplets containing 
ephedrine or pseudoephedrine to be placed behind the pharmacy 
counter. A buyer will have to show an ID and sign a log as well.

FOLLOWING THE TREND: North Carolina's General Assembly approved the 
law after similar bills passed in Oklahoma, Iowa and Tennessee, where 
the medicines were being "cooked" to create illegal methamphetamine.

OTHER SOURCES: Attorney General Roy Cooper said he believes the law 
will lead to a marked decline in meth labs and free up law 
enforcement to go after traffickers who bring in meth from Mexico or 
other states.


A summit on the meth issue, "Winning the war on Methamphetamines," 
will be held at Western Carolina University's Ramsey Center Nov. 16. 
For more information, call (828) 227-2086. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake