Pubdate: Sat, 12 Nov 2005
Source: Winston-Salem Journal (NC)
Copyright: 2005 Piedmont Publishing Co. Inc.
Note: The Journal does not publish letters from writers outside its 
daily home delivery circulation area.
Author: Associated Press


ASHEVILLE -- The top law officer in North Carolina says that federal 
legislation pending in Congress could help the state combat the sale 
and use of methamphetamine, an illegal drug that has taken hold in 
rural America. A proposal in Congress that would limit sales of cold 
medicines used to make the drug stalled Thursday after House and 
Senate negotiators couldn't iron out differences. A similar version 
could still be passed next week. "I think ... Congress could provide 
a great preventive measure for the East Coast," Attorney General Roy 
Cooper said.

The number of meth-lab seizures in North Carolina has increased from 
nine in 1999 to 280 as of late October. Most of those labs were in 
Western North Carolina, reflecting the eastward push of the meth 
problem. North Carolina legislators already have passed legislation 
limiting the sale of cold medicines such as Sudafed. The law, based 
on efforts in Oklahoma, will take effect on Jan. 15.

Cooper believes that a comprehensive approach should require limits 
on sales, tougher penalties on meth-lab operators and incentives for 
drug treatment. Congress also could help state and local police by 
providing money for basic law-enforcement needs, Cooper said, such as 
crime-fighting equipment for investigators.

This includes help replacing North Carolina's fingerprinting system, 
which Cooper called "outdated."
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