Pubdate: Sun, 11 Dec 2005
Source: Sun News (Myrtle Beach, SC)
Copyright: 2005 Sun Publishing Co.
Author: Adam Beam, Knight Ridder
Note: Apparent 150 word limit on LTEs
Bookmark: (Drug Courts)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


COLUMBIA - Starting a statewide drug court is one recommendation in a
plan to battle methamphetamine use in South Carolina.

More than 450 representatives of law enforcement, public health and
social services groups statewide have put forward the plan before, as
one official said, meth "becomes the next crack cocaine of drug use in
South Carolina."

The plan resulted from a statewide summit in Myrtle Beach at the end
of November. It will be released in January.

The drug, often referred to as meth, is a steadily growing problem in
South Carolina.

Jack Claypool, president and chief executive of the Lexington-Richland
Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council, said a major part of the plan includes
starting a standardized drug court system in every county.

Offenders must submit to random drug tests, hold a job and meet with a
judge every other week.

The drug court often is used as a form of probation; offenders are
admitted on a case-by-case basis.

"If you stop the addiction, you stop the crime," Solicitor Barney
Giese said, saying about two-thirds of crimes in Richland and Kershaw
counties are drug-related.

However, drug courts now vary from county to county.

The second part of the plan encourages a community-based approach to
fighting meth.

Claypool said there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

"Each community can match the problems that they have." Proposed
'Sudafed' law

The bill would not let people buy more than three packages of cold
medications, such as Sudafed, that contain more than 9 grams of
pseudoephedrine or ephedrine, key ingredients in methamphetamine.

To buy those three packages, customers would be required to provide
identification and sign for the medications.

The packages also would be stored behind a counter and could be given
out only by a store employee.

Law enforcement officials say the law would offer a crucial tool to
track methamphetamine producers.
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