Pubdate: Thu, 15 Dec 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: Mary M. Shaffrey, Journal Washington Bureau
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Tucked into the USA Patriot Act is legislation that would restrict and 
record the sale of products necessary to cook methamphetamine.

Congressional leaders say they believe that the bill is an important step 
in dealing with the drug.

The provision would:

* Place limits on the amount of pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient in 
meth, that can be bought both daily (3.6 grams) and monthly (9 grams).

* Place pseudoephedrine products behind the counter or in a locked cabinet.

* Require purchasers of pseudoephedrine to show photo ID and sign a logbook 
detailing their purchase.

The bill allocates $99 million a year for the next five years to train 
state and local law-enforcement officials to investigate problems related 
to meth, and an additional $20 million in 2006 and 2007 for grant programs 
intended on helping children who have been affected by meth.

The House passed the renewal of the Patriot Act 251-174 yesterday. The 
Senate is expected to consider the bill later this week, possibly Friday.

"Meth use affects us all by overwhelming social services, draining 
law-enforcement resources and shredding the social fabric of communities 
across the country," said Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., the Senate majority 
leader, during a news conference after the House vote yesterday.

Karen Tandy, the administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency, said during 
a news conference with House leaders before the vote: "If you think that 
because you don't use meth, you are not affected, think again ... meth 
affects all of us."

Rep. Howard Coble, R-6th said that meth is also a hazard to the environment 
because of the toxic byproducts its manufacture leaves behind.

"This problem used to be isolated, now it's everywhere," said Coble, who 
voted for the bill.

The meth bill passed yesterday incorporates parts of similar bills that 
were sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C.; Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-5th; 
and Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-10th.

Drug-enforcement officials as well as public-health advocates and 
law-enforcement officials praised the bill and urged the Senate to take 
immediate action on it.

"When we think about the global war on terrorism, we shouldn't forget about 
the war on terrorism at home," said Ron Brooks, the president of the 
National Narcotics Officers' Associations Coalition.

Brooks said that meth is a "WMD within our own border" that needed to be 
dealt with.

Rep. Mel Watt, D-12th, voted against the Patriot Act's renewal because of 
his concerns over civil liberties, but he supports the meth legislation and 
wondered why it had to be incorporated into the Patriot Act.

Watt said he thinks that the meth bill could have stood for a vote on its own.

"On balance, I couldn't support it (the Patriot Act)," Watt said.

He is not alone in his concerns.

Democrats and a few Republicans in the Senate have threatened to block the 
bill by filibuster. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the main co-sponsor of 
the meth legislation in the Senate, would not commit to voting for her own 
legislation yesterday because of its inclusion with the Patriot Act.

"I am very candidly concerned (about this)," she said.

Frist said that if it became clear that the Senate would not pass the 
Patriot Act, he would look for another bill to attach the meth language to 
this year, but he was optimistic that would not be necessary.
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